“Folly” finds home in village
by Jack Deming
Sep 05, 2013 | 4087 views | 0 0 comments | 80 80 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kathleen and Peter Wallace are ready to greet customers at their new coffee shop in Wilmington.
Kathleen and Peter Wallace are ready to greet customers at their new coffee shop in Wilmington.
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WILMINGTON- After 30 years of running fast-paced restaurants and working as an executive chef, Peter Wallace says he’s ready to “keep it small.” Recently, Peter and his wife Kathleen opened the doors to Folly Foods at 33 West Main Street, a new venture six years in the making that Wallace says fills a void in downtown Wilmington, while allowing him to do what he loves.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for so long, and this is exactly what I wanted to do,” said Wallace. “I wanted to bring it to a level that was manageable and not a place with 20 employees. It’s more relaxing this way, and it’s really a lifestyle.”

Folly Foods is a coffee, dairy, and juice bar nicknamed “Bar 3” that features a small but robust menu of specialty fare. The Nantucket Coffee roaster coffee is slow-poured while an assortment of homemade buttermilk-based baked goods from “compost cookies” to buttermilk blackberry cake covers the counter. The dairy menu includes Haagen Dazs sorbet as well as homemade ice cream, including a Guinness flavored choice for Irish sundaes. Three smoothies are also on the menu featuring green vegetables like kale and cucumber, and an assortment of ingredients made available for blending like chia seeds, whey protein, and beet pollen.

“We’re filling a void in town and that’s what we were hoping for,” said Wallace.

The Wallaces bought 33 West Main Street six years ago with the purpose of starting a business. Living on Nantucket, Peter and Kathleen used to come through town on their way to and from Manchester, where they’ve run the popular restaurant Up for Breakfast for 30 years, and decided Wilmington would be the location of their next venture. The site has previously served as a bakery and a pizza parlor, and was a residence when the Wallaces purchased it. While Tropical Storm Irene proved to be a setback to their plans, the Wallaces performed all construction and renovations themselves, as Kathleen’s eye for aesthetics provided the interior with a special design from the paint and tile, to the Roman columns on either side of their merchandise shelf.

Peter says they chose Wilmington in part because it’s a town that hasn’t blown up from commercial development like Manchester. “We want to see more independent retailers expressing themselves through their shops,” said Wallace. “That’s what we’re doing, we’re expressing what we think is cool here.”

The Wallaces have been relying on word of mouth to let people know there is once again a coffee shop in the downtown. Wallace said Folly Foods’ first weekend of business exceeded his expectations, as local business owners directed their customers to his door, a favor Wallace is more than willing to return.

“We’re in a funky little town, so let’s work together. I have books (on my shelves) that help sell my stuff, but I have a sign that says ‘I buy at Bartleby’s and you can too.’ I want people to know I shop locally and so should they.”

Wallace said his shop does not intend to take away anyone else’s business either. Before the Wallaces began the process for opening Folly Foods, they contacted the owners of the former Beanheads coffee shop, which was housed in the Parmelee and Howe building before the flood, to make sure they weren’t intending to re-open. Wallace said that offering a small menu of specialty goods allows customers to go to other shops on the block for a breakfast sandwich or a beer.

“The repeat customers have been great,” said Wallace. “It may take a while for me to find my tribe or my tribe to find me but I’m patient. I know every time somebody leaves, they’re going to tell somebody where they went and that’s how it works. You advertise by what you put in the cup.”

Folly Foods is open Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 8 am to 3 pm (closed on Wednesdays), and Friday and Saturday, 8 am to 3 pm, and 5 to 7 pm.

Wallace said he’s happy to facilitate a need for those in town, as well as out-of-towners who continue to support the local economy. “We’re really happy to be part of the reason they come into town and hopefully we’ll encourage other people to open more shops.”
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