AUGUSTA — The Vickery Cafe, a downtown mainstay frequented by coffee drinkers and soup slurpers, isn’t included in the plans of the building’s new owner to renovate the Vickery building in downtown Augusta.

Vickery Cafe owner Colleen Carey said she learned about a week ago that the small cafe won’t be able to remain at its 261 Water St. spot beyond the end of June. She said the cafe may reopen elsewhere in Augusta, potentially even downtown, but that she’s keeping her options open and feels confident things will work out.

“I’ve loved being here and meeting new people, it fulfilled me,” Carey said. “But I’m a true believer that things happen for a reason. I feel like we’ll probably be back in business sooner, rather than later. I love downtown, I love the revitalization of it, it’s really coming around. (Reopening the cafe) downtown is not out of the question, but we’re keeping our options open.”

Developer Andrew LeBlanc, owner of the block of buildings at 257-271 Water St., plans to convert the vacant upper floor office space there into 23 apartments, with small retail spots on the Water Street level.

But LeBlanc confirmed on Monday that Carey’s Vickery Cafe will not be in any of those retail spots.

He said the two parties were unable to come to an agreement for the cafe to remain in business at the spot.


“It just didn’t work out from a business perspective,” LeBlanc said. “We’re looking at other options, and wish it could have worked out with Colleen. We wish her the best and hope she can find another location, under a different name, potentially.”

The major building renovation project is called The Vickery, after one of the historic buildings in the block, in materials submitted to the Planning Board in order to secure city permits for the change of use in the combined buildings.

Carey said the need for major renovations to the block of buildings would have meant her cafe would have had to close during construction, a difficult obstacle for a business to overcome.

Carey, who bought the business about four years ago, is confident downtown Augusta can support a cafe like hers.

“There are a lot of state workers and business professionals down here and they really need their coffee,” she said.

Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, agrees.


“There is a big demand and need for coffee downtown from the many state workers, merchants and residents who work and live here,” he said. “There are several spaces downtown which would be ideal for a new location. If anything this is the prime place for a cafe/coffee shop because of the foot traffic that you just don’t see in other parts of the city.”

LeBlanc said he’s not yet sure what types of retail businesses will go into the Water Street-level spots in The Vickery redevelopment project. He said there has been some discussion with other local retailers.

He said he’s still lining up financing partners and determining the budget for the project. He anticipates work, likely beginning with the development of market-rate apartments on the upper floors, will start later this summer, or in the fall.

LeBlanc said there is a vibrancy that is palpable downtown now, other developers including the Parkhurst family are making major investments and improvements, and he anticipates The Vickery project adding to that vibrancy.

“It’s a great market, with beautiful buildings, you’ve got the state Capitol, you’ve got commerce, it’s a great opportunity,” he said of why he chose to invest in the downtown Augusta property. “We’ve seen the hard work other local business leaders have done. That’s really exciting to see and we just want to continue that and not take away from it. We’re open to ideas. We want to learn what would be best for downtown, and that’s what we’re hoping to provide to the market.”

Hall said he and others are sad to see the Vickery Cafe leave its downtown spot after so many years as a favorite mainstay. But they also understand the need of the developer to begin construction in the renovation project, and are excited for what the future may hold for the apartments which will be created in the now-vacant space.


Carey, who does catering and makes custom-ordered cakes and cupcakes, is also a partner in the Ballard Cafe, a small cafe in the Ballard Center in Augusta just across the river from downtown Water Street, so she’ll still have access to a kitchen.

She expects the Vickery Cafe to remain open at its Water Street spot until roughly the end of June. She continues to assure her friends and family that she’ll be fine, and hopes people will come visit the business before it closes.

“I will absolutely miss it, I really like the people part of it,” Carey said. “You get to know people, not just as a customer. So I’ve developed some really close relationships here. Come on down and show us some love.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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