From its early success serving coffee, pastries, and a small offering of lunch items, Cafémantic has been around for more than a decade and is surviving the storm that is COVID-19. At its helm is Andrew Gütt, a force to be reckoned with.
At age 24, after graduating college, working in restaurants, gigging as a tech person for live music around the state, and trying his hand at teaching in Willimantic, Gütt raised funds to start a coffee shop that was “the opposite” of other places around town. A couple of years later, after morphing into a full-service restaurant, Cafémantic became a focal point of the dining scene in Willimantic and, in August of 2014, was discovered by the New York Times.
Though planted firmly on the map of the Connecticut dining scene since the positive review, the crew of Cafémantic experienced a gas explosion during a catering job off-site in 2017, and a changing of the guard in the kitchen in September of 2019 not long before it was unexpectedly forced, in March of 2020, to face the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within a matter of days, Gütt reduced staff to a skeleton crew, began offering curbside options called Cafémantic at Home, and really started thinking about what would come next.
Andy spoke to me about his beginnings as an entrepreneur after graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University, his creative culinary partnership with Executive Chef John Hudack, and the transition to a new kitchen team with Tyler May stepping in to fill Hudack’s shoes. Andy shared stories about how his business has evolved and continues to evolve with a new team and a reopening under a new identity and brand: Stone Row.
Interview recorded on June 6, 2020. Musical theme: “Cascades” Podington Bear, Soundofpicture.com.