GREAT BARRINGTON — The local coffeehouse Fuel is moving across Main Street to a new, larger home, and owners Will and Robin Curletti couldn't be happier.
"We don't want to open the new space until things are just right," Will Curletti said. "But we're close."
While the Curlettis and their team work on converting the space at 293 Main St., formerly the Gypsy Joynt, into the new Fuel, their space across the street, home to Fuel for over a decade, is still humming along. Curletti said the business will be active at the original location for another week or two, but not long past then.
The move is part of a broader midsummer shake-up in Great Barrington's vibrant downtown. Main Street anchor Tune Street has closed its doors on the corner of Railroad and Main streets and fellow mainstay Jack's Country Squire is closing by winter.
Fuel is moving to the larger former Gypsy Joynt space and will be replaced by the tentatively named "Café Tangiers," a Moroccan-Mediterranean café.
The new restaurant will be owned and operated by Xicohtencatl restaurateur Angel Espinoza. Espinoza told The Eagle the move was the culmination of a longtime dream.
"I've always wanted to open a café," Espinoza said. "And I've always wanted a place on Main Street."
'Good for the town'
Landlord Richard Stanley welcomed the expansion of Fuel's business and his new tenant.
"I'm happy to see them continue to succeed," Stanley said. "I've worked with Robin for a long time, she has an entrepreneurial spirit. This is good for them and good for the town."
Fuel's move to the larger space has presented some infrastructural challenges, Curletti said. The space required bringing a number of elements of the space up to code even before the architectural revamp, led by Joel Tuchscherer, could begin.
The Curlettis are still waiting for a new door for the storefront and work on the entryway, where a vestibule has been removed to make way for a handicapped-accessible ramp, is presenting challenges.
But the larger space presents more opportunities than headaches. Those opportunities are rooted in Fuel's beginnings as a coffee shop.
"We want to keep the feeling of a community hub," he explained as he showed The Eagle the new lounge space in the front left of the building, facing Railroad Street. "We want to continue to be a place where people get their local news, see friends. We'll continue to do what we've always done."
An important part of that continuation is coffee. Curletti said Fuel will continue its relationships with suppliers Mocha Joe, No. 6 Depot, and Barrington Coffee Roasting. The companies' beans will provide the drive behind the coffee bar that will greet visitors when they walk in the door. Customers will order their drinks and then use the to-go station beside it to add sugar and creamer. A standing bar will wrap around from the to-go station to the right front window with a view of the north end of downtown.
New landlord Tom Levin is looking forward to having his favorite coffee shop as a next-door neighbor, he said.
"I'm very excited they'll be here," he said. "They've done great work establishing the business. I'm looking forward to the opening. I won't have too far to go for my morning coffee."
The rest of the space will be devoted to a full-service restaurant. A marble-topped full bar will extend from just past the coffee bar to a bar lounge at the back wall. On the other side of the floor, a long community table will abut a dividing wall from the coffee lounge at the front of the building. Satellite tables will be stationed around the room to accommodate more guests, Curletti said.
Finally, the dining room will accommodate a music stage in the far corner. Live music has been missing from downtown since the Weller family closed the Gypsy Joynt and headed down to Texas. The Curlettis are committed to bringing the live music scene back to downtown.
The new space will continue the Fuel tradition of showcasing local artists, Curletti said. Fuel will still rotate local artists' work on the walls and provide a spot for musicians to play for an eager Great Barrington.
"There is a clear vacuum created by the departure of the previous tenants," Curletti said. "Live music has been a repeated point of interest for people downtown."
Fuel hopes to be up and running in the new spot before the end of August. It was welcome news to next-door neighbor Evergreen Fine American Crafts Retail Manager Keith Watkins.
"I am thrilled that Robin and Will are going to be our new neighbors. They are going be extremely successful in their new location," Watkins said. "And now I only have a few steps to go to have a beer after work."