Former Parlor Cafe to reopen as SereniTea Parlor — just in time for MCLA students


NORTH ADAMS — Breathe easy, students.

The former Parlor Cafe on Ashland Street is reopening under new ownership and a new name — The SereniTea Parlor

Long a favorite off-campus hangout spot for students of the adjacent Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the cafe has taken many forms through the years, and was closed in June.

Now co-owners Leanne Wilensky and Todd Hamilton will make it their own. It will open Tuesday; hours are expected to be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Former owners Jason and Elizabeth Morin listed the business for sale earlier this year. It had been the Elf Parlor before they opened it as the Parlor Cafe in 2012, .

Within about the span of a month, partners Wilensky and Hamilton — a North Adams native and friend of Jason's — went from their respective jobs in theater and construction to owners of SereniTea, scrambling to open the a cafe before MCLA students return from the summer break.

"I want to have a balance of honoring the business that was here [and] creating our atmosphere; our products," Wilensky said.

Though it seems like a hasty career shift, Wilensky has been "planning and business formulating" for a cafe of her own for about four years, she said, thanks to her "intense passion" for tea, smoothies and juice blends made the right way.

Have a headache and haven't slept all night? There's a tea that Wilensky will recommend for that.

Hamilton, with a background in the restaurant business, will focus on the food, specifically build-your-own sandwiches. With a six-page menu, the cafe also will feature homemade baked goods and it plans to offer waffles and French toast. Parents to two children, Hamilton and Wilensky said the cafe will also feature a kids menu.

"We are starting something completely fresh but based on what our expertise is," she said.

Wilensky, a New York native, was inspired by the culture surrounding tea while she lived for 18 months in England.

"For them, tea is something essential and sacred," she said.

But coffee will not be an afterthought at SereniTea. In addition to a medium roast drip coffee every day, customers will have the option to purchase French-press brewed coffee — light, medium or dark roast.

At some point, the cafe's owners hope to stay open late for live events on Thursday nights and they plan to hold special hours for late studying sessions during finals and midterms. The proximity to the college was a selling point for Wilensky and Hamilton.

"This is ideal for me, to have a shop in town," Hamilton said.

Ultimately, Hamilton and Wilensky hope to establish a personal relationship with their customers.

"For me, my favorite establishments I go to are the ones to multiple times, where they know my name and what I like to order," Wilensky said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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