Neighbors Gather for an Eastonite’s Art Show

by Nancy Doniger

Artist Louise Astorino with Geri Gould and Kit Briner at the reception for Astorino’s show, “Raccogliere: To Gather.” — with Louise Astorino, Geri Gould and Kit Briner at Greiser’s Coffee & Market.

A hearty crowd of friends and neighbors braved the arctic vortex to gather at #Greiser’s Coffee & Market, 299 Center Road, Easton, Conn. to view an art exhibit created by one of their own.

Local artist Louise Astorino attended the Jan. 31 reception to greet guests and talk about her collection of watercolors and ink on cold press paper, titled “Raccogliere: To Gather.” The theme fit the intimate space and friendly ambiance of the upscale market.

“Raccogliere is a representation of the ways in which Florentine people gather in spaces to savor time and the company of others,” Astorino said in her artist’s notes. “During my field research for my IDEA Grant in Italy, I kept a visual diary of pictures, drawings and paintings. When I returned home, I produced a series of paintings that reflect the social interactions and habits I observed in Florence.

“While the world continues to move faster by the day, Florentines have almost unanimously rebuffed the ‘to-go’ culture and remained insistent on gathering in places to enjoy the time and company of others.”

Astorino grew up in #Easton, Conn. and graduated from Joel Barlow High School (#JBHS). She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in painting in 2017. She now lives in Stamford and works for a creative firm in Manhattan.

Astorino’s artwork will remain on exhibit and available for purchase in February. The guests at the reception ventured out on the bitter cold winter’s night not only to admire the artwork but also to enjoy the company of others. The gathering captured the essence of what Adrienne Jane Burke has sought to encapsulate in her upscale market.

Burke describes her new business, which opened Nov. 1, on the shop’s Facebook page: “Greiser’s is the rustic and charming community hub of Easton, Conn. We serve perfectly crafted coffee and espresso drinks, wholesome panini and grab-n-go sandwiches, and artisanal baked goods.”

Burke invites people to meet up with friends, relax over tasty food and conversation, stop by for coffee and … on the way to work, and to shop her market for staples and fine foods, local products and specialty items.

Dick Greiser owns the iconic building where the coffee market is located and could be a Norman Rockwell painting. For many years Greiser operated a deli and antiques shop at the stie, which has belonged to his family for generations. He decided to lease the space to Burke last year for her coffee market and continues to sell antiques and pump gasoline.

NANCY DONIGER WAS THE EDITOR IN CHIEF OF THE EASTON COURIER. SHE LIVES IN NEWTOWN.

Article Reprinted with Permission from Easton Neighbors.

The Spirit of Community: The New Greiser’s

by Kristin Lundbye

When Dick Greiser, owner of the gas station/antique and curiosities shop at the corner of Center and Westport Roads, closed the deli portion of the Easton landmark that had been in his family since 1926, some might have wondered what would become of the place. After all, Greiser Store has been part of the daily lives of Eastonites for almost a century.

So it was for Adrienne Burke who, in her eight years in Easton, had many occasions to stop in. But each time she drove by the historic storefront, she envisioned something different. She even broached the subject with Dick letting him know that she would love an opportunity to discuss the future of the store with him.

In June 2017 Dick announced he would no longer operate the deli, sparking Adrienne to put her plan into action. It took a year and a half of hard work and a fair amount of serendipitous coincidence, but Adrienne’s vision is now a reality. Since November 1, 2018, Greiser’s Coffee and Market has been open for business, welcoming familiar faces and new ones too, and etching a re-envisioned image of the iconic shop into the minds of Eastonites and visitors alike.

Take a close look around as you sip your nitro-brewed coffee and you’ll find traces of the store’s history. As many things that are different in the “new” Greiser’s, so many connections remain. The hummingbird apostrophe in the new name? Adrienne found the original antique etching at an Easton estate sale and thought it would make the perfect addition to her logo, never knowing that Dick and his late wife (known as Toni, but whose given name was also Adrienne) loved watching the birds in their yard. The eclectic chandelier hanging over the table? It was handmade by Danyel Ferrari, Toni and Dick’s daughter, from Adrienne’s personal eggbeater collection. The coffee mugs on the top shelf of the hutch near the entrance? They belong to the original “Greiser’s gang,” who congratulated Adrienne with a hummingbird card signed by each of them, now displayed behind the counter. The Helen Keller bust next to the green cabinet? Adrienne had her eye on the sculpture from the first time she visited the store. Dick presented it to her on opening day. And the Helen Keller quote that hung in Adrienne’s office from the time she was in her 20s? It reads, in part, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Apropos for the risk Adrienne took to embark on her new business venture.

Still, the investment wasn’t Adrienne’s alone. Without the support of her husband, Jeff Foster, and collaboration from a tremendous number of friends and neighbors, Greiser’s Coffee and Market might not exist. Too many to name, Easton residents offered their assistance in drawing floor plans, reviewing marketing and merchandising concepts, completing a formal P&Z analysis, building the cabinetry, installing the point of sale and sound systems, providing baked goods, and even jumping behind the counter to serve customers on opening day. The help suggests another famous Helen Keller adage: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

It only takes a moment inside the store to understand that Adrienne has created exactly what she set out to: a place where shoppers can enjoy a great cup of coffee while they browse locally sourced goods; a place where friends can gather for a quick hello and a bite to eat; a place where moms and daughters can catch up over a cup of cocoa; a place where neighbors can congregate to build the spirit of community. Greiser’s Coffee and Market is, as Adrienne hoped, “as much about the product as it is the experience.”

And if you’re in the market for a tank of gas or an antique curiosity, you can still find Dick Greiser in the back room of the Easton landmark.

 KRISTIN LUNDBYE IS AN EDITOR FOR EASTON NEIGHBORS MAGAZINE.

Article reprinted with permission from Easton Neighbors

Longevity. Greiser’s Goes a Long Way Back.

by Bruce Nelson

If you’ve lived in Easton for any length of time, Greiser’s is likely the first name that comes to mind when you think about the proverbial old-fashioned general store. It has all the right ingredients to indicate a long life of serving the community. There’s the old post office on the east end of the building; the recently refurbished combination coffee shop, deli, and old fashioned country store, along with a very eclectic antique shop that reflects Easton’s past with its interesting selection of antiquities on the west side; and on the outside, there’s even a set of gasoline pumps where you can fill up the SUV while soaking up much the same bucolic atmosphere as your great grandparents would have encountered a hundred years ago. But just how long has this little piece of Easton’s past been around?

The short answer: a very long time!

The present building housing the post office and Greiser’s began life as two separate structures, both of which housed independently operated stores in their earlier days. The side holding the present post office was likely built somewhere around 1740 – build dates on structures of that era are almost never exact, they’re more educated guesses based on land transfers, deeds, wills, and a good deal of local oral history. The first owner was Stephen Wheeler, followed by members of the Seeley and Edwards families. That structure became known as the East Store after another building was constructed sometime around 1800 by David Turney a few yards to the west. The newer building soon became known as the West Store. That building was later sold to Anson Ryan who also operated a grist mill on the pond that sat to the south of both stores.
Selleck N. Osborn was born in 1832. In 1850 he was working as a shoemaker for Burr Bennett in his shop just to the north of the Center School on Westport Road. By 1860 he had become a fairly successful farmer, but farming was a hard life at best and Selleck decided hire some help to manage the farm while he began a new, slightly less physically demanding career as a merchant when he first purchased the East Store.

Unlike today’s Easton, there were many merchants who mostly served only the immediate area around their store in the mid-nineteenth century. When the opportunity presented itself in 1868, Selleck took over the position of Easton’s postmaster and moved the post office from the northern side of Center Road into the East Store. He earned a modest $50 that first year for handling the mail but having the post office in his store meant folks retrieving their mail would have to walk right by his merchandise. Increased business by 1870 allowed Mr. Osborn to purchase the nearby West Store and shortly there-after he moved it a few yards east and connected it to the older East Store to form the building we know today.

Osborn’s store became the hub of the center district and it survived even as Bennett’s bookmaking business, and the old grist mill faded into history. The store sold groceries, dry goods, feed and grain. Selleck Osborn – postmaster, deputy sheriff, and merchant – ran his business for over thirty years. When he passed away in 1901, his son Henry took it over and managed it until 1921. After over a sixty-year run, the business finally changed hands.

The Ruman brothers were the sons of Czechoslovakian immigrants. During the last years of the nineteenth century and well into the beginning of the twentieth, Easton saw a large influx of eastern European farmers who had fled their native land looking for a better life in America.

The Ruman Brothers store pictured above would serve both the new and the old residents of Easton for several years. By the early 1920’s the country store at the intersection of Center and Westport Roads was selling gasoline and tires. A large sign over the porch advertised the business as a Goodyear Service Station.

The next family to own the business was headed by Arthur R. Greiser who purchased the property from an aging Henry Osborn in 1926. Arthur and his wife Leontina ran the store and eventually moved into the house just to the east of the building. Their eldest son, Richard, came into the business and became the postmaster. Bringing in the third generation, Arthur’s grandson Richard eventually took over the operation later in the century and today still operates the antique store and gasoline pumps.

The main part of the original store has seen a recent renovation that fully keeps it within the character of the building as it has transitioned into gathering place where locals can still chat over a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee while enjoying a light breakfast or lunch. New coffee shop, deli and store owner, Adrienne Burke, has successfully managed to maintain the wonderful historical atmosphere of Easton’s oldest continued use commercial building.

So, now you know when you think country store, why you likely automatically think, Greiser’s. May it live on another 300 years!

BRUCE NELSON, WHO GREW UP IN EASTON, IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH FOR THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF EASTON

Retro and Quaint in New England: Greiser’s Coffee Shop and Country Store

by Gale PapaGeorge

I met up with some Easton friends this past Sunday at the new Greisers Coffee & Market. As a writer, I’m always observing my surroundings. Here’s what I found:

Greisers coffee shop not only offers local townspeople great coffee, baked goods and paninis, it also has the feel of a quaint New England country store, offering a nostalgic vibe that reminds us of simpler times. A time where locals met up for conversation before starting a busy day or winding down after work. Whether meeting up intentionally or just stopping in for a cup of Joe to go, people were striking up conversations all around me.

Like any general store, Greisers also carries hard to find unique gift items (many made by local Easton residents) as well as gourmet cheeses and maple syrup, while also offering some practical groceries for those in need of a last minute half gallon of milk.

As I was waiting on my friends, people sat down all around me, introducing themselves and including me in their light-hearted banter with their spouses and children. Maybe it’s the coziness and warmth of the decor that makes people feel like they are sitting in someone’s living room.

Since these types of country stores are typically found in quaint charming New England towns, Greiser’s Coffee Shop and General Store fits right in and is just what Easton needs.

Whether you live locally, or in a surrounding town, it’s worth making Greisers part of your daily or weekly routine.

GALE PAPAGEORGE MANAGES THE EASTON CT NEWS FACEBOOK PAGE

Cappuccinos Come to Easton

by Ellin Curley

I am a life long resident of Easton, Connecticut. We have had two general stores in town since the 1920’s or 1930’s. One of those town traditions, Greiser’s, has reopened after a major transformation. It is now my favorite place in town.

The owner, Richard Greiser, has recently decided to retire. So he rented the front rooms of the store and kept the back room for his beloved and wonderful antiques.

The woman he rented to, Adrienne, decided to totally reinvent the front space. She turned it into a “gourmet” country store and coffee shop. It also sells miscellaneous items like candles and soaps, blankets and aprons and interesting teas. It has a distinctly upscale country vibe.

 The décor is warm, comfortable and rustic. There are places to sit down to enjoy your coffee, both inside and out, in an armchair or at a table. And there is still friendly conversation, with Adrienne (who is delightful) and other servers, as well as with other customers. So the experience is still small-town intimate.

But the food is totally high end. The refrigerator section houses vitamin waters, cheeses, cultured butter, frozen pastas and packed, marinated vegetables. Also sold are interesting jams, pestos, honeys and condiments.

Some of the teas and coffees served at the counter are cappuccinos, macchiatos, espressos, and chai lattes. Alternate milks are on hand for the lactose intolerant.

The baked goods are delicious, especially the croissants – almond for sweet and bacon and egg, ham and cheese and spinach and ricotta for savory. The cakes and muffins are flavors like orange spice and almond poppy seed and they often have macaroons as well. The sandwiches are paninis, like Brie and fig preserves on whole grain, locally baked bread.

I’m thrilled with the new Greiser’s. I love the vibe and the food. I’ll be even more excited when their chef (yes, they have a real chef) starts making cooked meals for dinner take-out.

I never thought I would be able to sit in a comfy chair and enjoy a cappuccino or latte just one mile from my home! But Easton now has a place to go with atmosphere, personality and charm as well as good food and good conversation. Now I can have a touch of culinary urbanity in my otherwise rural life.

Three Cheers!