There's not a lot to see at downtown Bradenton's newest coffee shop, but that's pretty much the point.
On Monday, Lauri Contarino and Erica McCreadie will open Tellers, their co-owned cafe, at 602 Old Main St. on the first floor of the Bakker Building. For now, the coffee and tea bar will focus on quick to-go drinks but there are serious plans for expansion.
Tellers, which earns its name from the renovated location, used to be a Bank of America branch. It still has the looks of a bank, but instead of using drive-thru lanes for money service, you walk up to the teller window to order your beverage. However, the road to retrofitting the space was long and arduous, Contarino said.
"We basically converted a perfectly fine office space into a cafe. We removed new carpet and jackhammered the floor to get to the plumbing," Contarino explained.
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The result is a tiny space totally dedicated to serving high-end coffee that doesn't break the bank.
"We're not trying to be a Starbucks where they make a dessert out of your drink," Contarino said. "We'd rather have people come visit us every day than to have them splurge on a cup of coffee."
Prices range from about $2 for a standard cup of coffee to $4 for a nitro cold brew coffee or tea. Tellers will offer a deli-style vegan menu later this summer.
The shop sports a minimal design right now. There's no inside seating at all and the outside walls are painted black until a designer leaves their mark with a full mural. McCreadie said those choices were intentional and are part of an effort to make Tellers feel like a spot that belongs to everyone.
"Anyone is welcome here. It's minimal, but we want everyone to feel like this is their coffee shop," said McCreadie, who has been a barista for the past 10 years. "We don't care if you have purple hair or if you don't speak English."
Contarino and McCreadie hope their coffee bar fits in with a plan that the city of Bradenton announced last month to make the area more walkable. Specifically, about $5.6 million when be invested into connecting the Riverwalk to the Village of Arts by repaving roads, extending sidewalks and making the area more active and safe.
"This is an area right now where people are walking past us," Contarino said of the Tellers location. "We want them to come in for a cup of tea every once in a while and explore what downtown has to offer."
Tellers hopes to help bring that vision to life by the end of the year with an outdoor beer and wine garden on the premises. A hand-crafted selection of regional and local craft beers will be on-tap, as well as curated wines.
"Our vision of success for ourselves is that we would become a destination in and of ourselves. People would come with their kids, maybe bring their dog, maybe hang out and meet new friends. We'll have the food trucks and live music and we'll have a lot going on," said Contarino, who came up with the idea for Tellers last summer. "We fit right into the city's vision to be something in between the Riverwalk and the Village of the Arts."
The walk-up window also fits in nicely with its next-door neighbor — literally. Connect Bradenton, a coworking space where business owners, entrepreneurs and other like-minded individuals may rent out collaborative or private office space for as little as $5, takes up the rest of the space on the first floor of the building.
"I think we'll work well together and bringing that coffee environment is a big bonus," said Matthew Peters, who works as a creative partner at Connect Bradenton.
Bernie Croghan, the owner of Connect Bradenton, said he looks forward to a partnership with Tellers. Workers in his space will have access to free coffee that is purchased in bulk from Tellers, but there's also a window that connects directly into the shop for custom orders on-site.
McCreadie and Contarino are spending this week practicing orders for customers on their new coffee machines, but they'll be officially open for business Monday with a grand opening ribbon cutting on Friday, June 29. Contarino says the results are already paying off based on customer reaction.
"We've had nothing but incredible support so far. One person looked in and said, 'Oh my gosh! I feel like I'm in Seattle,' which I think is the best compliment you can get."
Tellers will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours are expected to change once the beer garden is incorporated. For more information, call (941) 920-4373 or visit facebook.com/TellersBradentonFl.