MYSTIC — If “Cheers” could be a coffee shop instead of a bar, it would be Mystic Depot Roasters.
Similar to the popular TV show, the atmosphere that owners Sherrie and David Crompton, of Mystic, have created in their coffee shop is based on knowing, liking and serving their customers. The shop has been operating since September in the Mystic train depot at 2 Roosevelt Ave.
“It’s about being there for people and that’s what we want to do — you’re there for us, we’ll be there for you,” said Sherri, 52, who was seated at one of the shop’s round tables on Thursday in the long, rectangular space the couple refurbished as an antique train station.
Sherrie’s son, Ian Ponting, 24, one of the cooks, said the staff knows the customers’ preferences well.
“I think it’s like coming home and getting a fresh, home-cooked meal here,” he said, emerging from the shop’s narrow kitchen, located along the wall facing the railroad tracks. “We know how they like their food. We love it. It’s a wonderful experience for everyone here — the customers and the people that are cooking.”
Fixing up the depot was a labor of love that started in March 2016 after Amtrak, which owns the building, selected the Cromptons' project from 10 applicants to redo the space.
“We sat down one night and started talking through if we were going to bring it back, what could we do and what could it be,” said David, 58. He joined the conversation after commuting home from Warwick, where he is president and CEO of Quick Fitting, a technology firm he founded in 2004. “What seemed to make the most sense was a coffee shop and a comfortable, quiet environment, someplace you can just come and unwind and chill out.”
But the building, whose former occupant was the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, needed work, and lots of it.
“The whole place was in horrible disrepair. The water was coming through the ceiling when it rained,” David said. “We had a vision to turn it into a train station again, something that was really appealing.”
Every surface needed to be sanded, cleaned, painted or redone, said Sherrie.
“It was dark brown and we could only use historical colors, so we chose Stonington Blue,” she said. “We sanded the floors ourselves, we did all the work ourselves.”
Although the bones of the building were sound, all of the systems needed to be redone, said David.
“Anything that potentially could go wrong, did — from electrical to having to re-plumb the whole facility to having to change everything to put in ADA bathrooms and the access,” he said.
During the renovation, train station details such as a ticket booth window, which looks into the kitchen, were added.
Sherrie decorated the space with antiques but many of the pieces came from customers.
“The locals have brought us so many pieces — memorabilia, photographs — the original model of station, lanterns,” she said.
Unlike many restaurants in the area, the shop is seven days a week year-round, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day, and is often open when other places are closed.
“If you can get here, we’ll be there for you,” Sherrie said. “During snowstorms, we’re here and we’re one of the only shops open. The guys in the state plow trucks, they all come in here and we try to stay open.”
In the beginning the shop’s food selections were to-go sandwiches and “grab-and-go” items, but the fare has evolved into freshly made items.
“Our menu is ever-changing. Now we’re making our own soups, our own pastries, everything is made to order,” said Sherrie.
The Cromptons chose Dave’s Coffee, of Charlestown, to produce a special coffee blend for the shop. “We tasted a few and thought it was exactly what we like in a coffee and people love it,” Sherrie said. “It was local and we wanted to support local.”
Not only do customers know the staff at the shop, but they know each other and many friendships have been formed at the depot, said Ian.
“A couple came in and they were having breakfast here for the first time and then three other groups of people came in who regularly come here, and they were all having conversations with each other,” he said. “I’m watching these people eat their breakfast and they’re smiling and they end up talking to the people around them — it’s a good environment.”
Dave Carpenter, of Groton, an Air Force retiree who is known as “the major” at Stonington High School, where he substitute teaches, stops by the depot on his walk to and from his home.
“I know Sherrie and David and I know the crew— it’s like family here,” he said. "These guys really fixed it up. They landscaped it, they brought in a lot of antiques. It’s a wonderful place. “
Mystic Depot Roaster is open from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 3 .m. Saturday and Sunday.