The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








The long, gathering table in the center of the new cafe on West Broadway. Courtesy photo.

The Grind Rail Trail Cafe

Where: 5 W. Broadway, Derry
Call: 247-4506 

Community and coffee
Derry cafe reopens in new location

By Allie Ginwala

 On a recent Thursday morning, The Grind Rail Trail Cafe was bustling with patrons — some grabbing a cup of coffee on the way to their next appointment and others perched at high-top tables next to the front window, looking out from the cafe’s new home on West Broadway in Derry.

Co-owners Melanie Davis and Carmel Shea sat in the center of the cafe at a long, dark wooden table, reflecting on their first month in the new space.
“We don’t touch each other nearly as often as we did in our old space,” Davis said, laughing.
The cafe’s original location was on Manning Street in Derry.
“There wasn’t enough seating for customers. There was definitely not enough space for us,” Shea added.
The Grind first opened a year and a half ago, when Davis and Shea were at a crossroads in their careers and decided to fill a void they saw in Derry’s downtown — a “daytime, friendly, community type of place.” 
“We realized very quickly that it worked [and] we outgrew the space probably within half a year. Not until we got here did we realize how much we had outgrown the space,” Davis said. 
Slightly wary of moving so shortly after opening their business, Shea and Davis realized that if they didn’t snag the West Broadway location, someone else would. So they signed the lease, planning to take a few months to renovate while maintaining the Manning Street cafe. On July 31, only 24 hours after signing the new lease, everything changed.
In the apartments above the Manning Street cafe, the hot water tank burst, destroying the walls, floors and ceiling in The Grind. 
“We were concerned about our staff — it was two months of down time because now we weren’t in business, two months of lost revenue, two months of customer habits being forcefully changed to different places,” Davis said. 
After a couple days of “woe is me,” Shea said, they went full steam ahead toward the new cafe. Staff even came in to help with demolition, cleanup and errand runs. 
“[We] said, if you show up ... we’ll find something for you to do and we’ll pay you,” Davis said. “And they were here on blind faith that we would take care of them, which was really awesome.”
Previously a retail bike store, 5 West Broadway had to be redone from flooring and ceilings to plumbing and electric, plus the features Shea and Davis had in mind for the community space.
“We knew that we wanted this … big gathering table where people can kind of sit down, whether it was a big family sit-down or friends [sitting] down or sitting to work,” Shea said. “We knew we wanted to keep the bar — we had a bar in our last location. Our whole goal in setting up the space is to make it multifunctional … we wanted it to be very versatile and have something for everyone.”
Come spring, The Grind will have outdoor patio seating and a “walk through” window for walkers, runners and bikers. And the menu has expanded, featuring breakfast sausages from Tuckaway Tavern in Raymond and more soup and bread bowl options.
The new location opened Sept. 19.
“We were still painting at 7:30 in the morning and we opened at 8 to a line out the door. It was like Black Friday,” Davis said. “All the same faces came back. It was emotional for sure.”
“And since we unlocked that door on the 19th, it hasn’t stopped,” Shea said. 

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