New Cumberland coffee shop expands during COVID closure

Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, Contributing Wrtier//June 5, 2020

New Cumberland coffee shop expands during COVID closure

Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, Contributing Wrtier//June 5, 2020

COVID-19 has altered lives and shuttered businesses, resulting in an economic shutdown that has many business owners worried about their future.

Wade and Laurel Weiser are no exception. When the brother and sister were forced to close Brew Cumberland’s Best on Bridge Street in New Cumberland, they were initially dismayed. Then they realized that they could use the down time to their advantage.

The two decided to embark upon a project that they dreamed about for years but never had the opportunity to execute.

Shutting Down

Since opening in September of 2014, their business model stayed pretty much the same. 

“Because my sister is a pastry chef, she handles that side of things, with a lineup of scones, muffins, banana bread, cookies, quiche, baked oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches and soup,” Wade Weiser said.

For years, the two wanted to offer more food items, but were stymied by a small kitchen. “We wanted to renovate for a couple of years now, but knew it would require us closing for a month, at a minimum,” said Wade.

The coronavirus pandemic gave them that time.

The team began the renovation in May. 

“It’s a family affair really,” said Wade. “My dad owns a contracting business and we’re working on this together. It’s me, my sister, my mom, my dad and my fiancé. The supply chain has been smooth, for the most part.”

The project is being tackled in three stages. 

The dining room at Brew Cumberland’s Best before renovations began. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

“We focused on the front of the shop first and are currently waiting on flooring,” said Wade, adding that the front area lacked an efficient layout and resulted in congestion among customers and staff. “It is something that needed to be addressed, especially in the era of COVID,” said Wade, adding that they are also replacing concrete countertops with Formica, which is easier to clean. 

The kitchen expansion is also underway. “It’s the main reason why we wanted to do this in the first place,” he said, adding that the larger oven will accommodate more pastries and eventually allow them to branch into the wholesale arena. “Our baked goods were always popular, so we’re considering offering our services to other coffee shops, or places that don’t find it feasible to make their own baked goods,” he said.

The final stage will transform a storage area in the middle of the building to indoor/outdoor seating.  New garage doors, which can be raised and lowered depending on the weather, will be installed. “We are still waiting on the finalization of that permit from the borough, but for now we have verbal confirmation,” said Wade.

Coffee shops as a community hub

Don Kibler, Co-Director of the New Cumberland Revitalization Initiative, said that Brew Cumberland’s Best has been an important part of the community since their opening in 2014. “They have gourmet coffees, pastries and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch and are very good at what they do,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Kibler used the shop for business meetings about twice a week. “I considered it my second office,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to the new, improved space. 

“It’s a community gathering spot and has extended our business corridor,” said Kibler, explaining that most commerce in New Cumberland is within a few blocks of Third and Bridge. “With this being at the north end of Bridge, we extend the corridor up that far and that’s important too,” he said.

he completed cabinets with countertops. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Arian Horbovetz belongs to “Strong Towns,” an organization dedicated to helping towns and neighborhoods be financially strong and resilient. In his blog, “The Urban Phoenix,” the Rochester resident stresses the importance of coffee shops as a community hub. “Coffee shops offer residents a chance to rally around a local business without making a large investment of time or money. They can spend two minutes grabbing a coffee to go, or two hours meeting with friends, loved ones and even clients,” he said. 

Horbovetz likes the approachability of small, independent coffee shops. “They act as a community forum, where, for a few dollars, anyone can have an elevated social experience and feel part of something that is driving their community forward.”

Project completion

The project is slated for completion between July 15 and 31 and, if they meet the deadline, their only obstacle will be the ubiquitous COVID. 

“The change from yellow to green will be a big one for us and our hopes are high right now,” Wade said, adding that if the county doesn’t progress into the green phase by that time, a back-up plan will be put in place. 

“We will open up the drive through and accept takeout orders,” he said, adding that they’re currently working on online ordering.

Despite the challenges, his team feels fortunate to be making progress and improving the business during this difficult time. “I’m looking forward to the day when Brew Cumberland’s Best can, once again, act as a community hub to bring people together to meet over a cup of coffee and enjoy each other’s company,” he said.