MYSTIC — For many years while traveling as a musician, James Maple considered the Green Marble Coffee House in Mystic his home.
Maple, a 26-year customer of the downtown Mystic business, said he first visited the coffee house when he was 11 or 12 and immediately felt a connection to its denizens. No matter where life took him, he said, he was always able to come back to the Green Marble and feel like he fit right in.
"In my days as a touring musician, it was more like my home than anywhere I was staying," he said last week. "When I came back home, I always came back here. It was where I'd B.S. with old friends, and it's where I've made many new friends over the years."
Like many other loyal customers over the years, Maple was devastated when owner Lisa Alden-Carpenter decided to close the coffee house permanently in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the help of partner Nicole Anderson, who said she'd also found a home at the Green Marble when she first moved to the Mystic area in early 2018, the two were able to turn the sad news into an opportunity to carry on the coffee tradition.
After talking with Alden-Carpenter and receiving her blessing, Maple and Anderson have founded the Lamplighter Trading Co., a mixed-use coffee shop and specialty store housed at the same location near Steamboat Wharf that the Green Marble called home for nearly three decades.
Named after The Lamplighter, a bar in San Diego where Maple and Anderson first met in 2017, the new Mystic business isn't just your average cafe. Lamplighter Trading Co., which had a soft opening this weekend, combines a wide array of products with a classic look that aims to echo the style of the small New England seaport community.
Adorned with an impressive 300-year-old Danish white oak bar and countertops made of the same materials that were used to renovate the Mayflower II at the nearby Mystic Seaport Museum — Maple said he contacted Plimoth Plantation directly to obtain the wood, which was left over after renovations — the new-look coffee shop has a comforting, earth-tone look similar to that of an old-fashioned general store.
The work was completed by James Kirschner, a friend of Maple's and a shipwright at Mystic Seaport who also happened to work on the Mayflower II restoration.
"It's a different look, but we worked with Lisa to make sure she was comfortable with what we had planned," said Anderson, who worked as an herbalist prior to founding Lamplighter. "We didn't want this to be just a coffee house, but something we could expand on."
The menu and retail products will be just as diverse.
Lamplighter will have numerous coffee options, including offerings from Mystic Coffee Roasters, a local roasting business still operated by Alden-Carpenter, numerous teas and other beverages, bagels with different spreads, avocado and bruschetta toasts, and even "mocktails." The business also sells specialty products, including Willie's Remedy, a CBD-oil-infused coffee beverage from musician Willie Nelson's company.
Over the course of the next several months, Lamplighter also plans to stock specialty products ranging from soaps to CBD products. Maple said the company will continue to look for opportunities and will seek to change its offerings regularly based on customer feedback.
Work at the Lamplighter in recent weeks has caught the attention of those in the region, and Mystic Disc owner Dan Curland said he is excited to see what Maple and Anderson will be able to do with the shop.
Curland, who is a longtime close friend of Alden-Carpenter's, said the two have shown a great interest in making their new business a community-oriented establishment that respects the traditions and history of the Green Marble, which was founded under the same premise in 1991 by Bruce Carpenter and his first wife.
Alden-Carpenter joined Bruce in 1995 and the two ran the coffee house together until his death in 2014.
"I feel like they could have something special here, and I look forward to seeing where they go with it," Curland said.
Maple and Anderson each said they hope the establishment will provide an atmosphere that will help others, especially the younger generation, find a place where they can feel accepted and enjoy the company of those from all walks of life.
Anderson said in the future she hopes to use the location to host book clubs, artist events, performances and more.
"Ultimately, we don't want this to be 'our place.' We want it to be a community endeavor, kind of like a co-op," she said. "We want it to be a spot where everyone feels included."