Lunch on the go: Vegan Pizza Land opens Coffee Counter kiosk inside Thornes

Chris Byrne, left, hands off an order of lemonade and strawberry pound cake to Cedar Chest employee Alex Aponte on Friday at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

Chris Byrne, left, hands off an order of lemonade and strawberry pound cake to Cedar Chest employee Alex Aponte on Friday at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. PHOTOS FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Chris Byrne, left, takes the order of Alex Aponte on Friday at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

Chris Byrne, left, takes the order of Alex Aponte on Friday at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

The BLZ sandwich with tofu bacon, lettuce, roasted zucchini and house mayo on a homemade roll available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

The BLZ sandwich with tofu bacon, lettuce, roasted zucchini and house mayo on a homemade roll available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

The lentil rice bowl, seasonal lemonade, cold brew and bagged coffee available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

The lentil rice bowl, seasonal lemonade, cold brew and bagged coffee available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Chris Byrne displays the lentil rice bowl, seasonal lemonade, cold brew and bagged coffee available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

Chris Byrne displays the lentil rice bowl, seasonal lemonade, cold brew and bagged coffee available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

The tahini noodle salad available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

The tahini noodle salad available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Baked goods available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

Baked goods available at Coffee Counter by Vegan Pizza Land inside Thornes Marketplace in Northampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 07-03-2024 12:25 PM

Modified: 07-03-2024 4:42 PM


NORTHAMPTON — Entering Thornes Marketplace from Main Street and descending down to the first floor, downtown visitors can now find a new option when it comes to vegan, sustainable takeout food, thanks to the opening of the Coffee Counter kiosk.

The kiosk, located next to Cornucopia Natural Foods, is the second such location for the Coffee Counter, after it opened its first location in the Keystone Mill building in Easthampton last February.

The locations grew out of the Vegan Pizza Land food trailer, which serves homemade vegan fare at the Abandoned Building Brewery, but only for the months of May through November.

“We were just like, it’s winter, and we have this huge kitchen, and we’re not really using it,” said Will Meyer, one of the co-owners of the Coffee Counter and Vegan Pizza Land. “And our neighbors would start popping by and saying, ‘do you have any coffee? We can really use some lunch around here in this building.’”

Meyer acknowledged that “Coffee Counter” is something of a misnomer — there is no espresso machine to make it a proper coffee shop, nor is there a countertop to sit on to make it a proper cafe. Rather, it operates on a “grab-and-go” concept, for downtown workers and visitors to be able to grab a quick bite or a drink while keeping to a vegan diet.

While the Easthampton Coffee Counter focuses mainly on breakfast items, being open from 8 .a.m to 1 p.m. during the weekdays, the Northampton Coffee Counter will instead focus on lunch, with hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some of the lunch options for takeout include foccacia bread with various toppings, lentil rice bowls and tahini noodle salad, served alongside drinks like hot coffee, lemonade and iced herbal tea. Many of the ingredients for products, like kale, parsley and cucumbers are locally sourced from nearby farms.

“Everything is made from scratch,” Meyer said of the Coffee Counter’s menu. “All of our bread the sandwiches go on, and there’s no pre-made mayo, there’s no pre-made sauces, there’s nothing [pre-made] that you could just make yourself.”

Meyer said while there were originally no plans of opening a second Coffee Counter location, when the opportunity became available to open inside Thornes, it was too good to pass up. The kiosk is owned by the neighboring Cornucopia store, which serves as the landlord for the stand, rather than Thornes itself.

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“They [Cornucopia] were specifically seeking a vegetarian or vegan lunch option. One of our customers noticed that they were looking for that and helped connect us to them,” Meyer said. “I think that we have a lot of customers that are in Northampton, and there’s a lot of people who work downtown. And I think it’s nice to be able to just get like a not-too-expensive, no-animal product kind of lunch that’s convenient.”

The second Coffee Counter location opened for business on June 18, and is open from Tuesday to Saturday. As part of its launch, Cornucopia is offering a 10% discount to Coffee Counter customers who visit their shop during its first month in business.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.