“If you build it, they will come,” one Crafted Kup customer remarked to the coffee shop owner Tanner Townsend as he ordered his Mocha Coffeeshake. The customer was referring to the renovations that took place at the Crafted Kup over winter break. These renovations included upgrading from 24 seats to 68, all of which were occupied on Sunday afternoon.
“This has been in the works for about eight months,” shared Townsend when he took a moment to break away from the activity at the front counter. “I definitely kept the renovation under wraps, but I had the new space for a while.”
One of the major reasons for renovation was a lack of seating for the many customers constantly streaming in and out of the cafe. In an interview with the local radio station WRRV, Townsend stated that he would watch students and members of the community choose to go somewhere else for their coffee because there wasn’t enough space.
On Sunday, Townsend was beaming because the expansion increased the number of seats by a factor of nearly three. The long-hidden plans in the space next door were unveiled with great success as people began pouring in.
Along with seating quantity, one of Townsend’s major concerns in the renovation was quality. He remarked, “The previous aesthetic definitely was not mine, It sort of felt like somebody’s living room, and I wanted to make it more industrial and modern while still keeping it cozy.”
Lisset Magdaleno ’19, a Crafted Kup regular, could feel the difference as soon as she walked in. “It’s a whole different atmosphere. Everything has changed and become more modern,” she noted. For Magdaleno, Crafted Kup has been a staple of her freshman year. “It’s a place where I do a lot of roommate bonding. We even have weekly dates here. It’s just such a nice place to hang out, and I was really excited to come back to school and see the changes,” she said.
“Even though people were caught off-guard by the renovation, the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Townsend said.
As he welcomed students and members of the community at the counter, people walked in with exclamations of “oohs” and “aahs” in admiration of the wide open space and new furniture.
Not only does Townsend have an eye for aesthetics, he also has a hand for craft. “I built most of the furniture, art installations, benches, tables and bookshelves,” shared Townsend. “I also redid all the stairs, banisters and tilework.”
Megan Nelson ’19, herself a Crafted Kup frequenter as well, mentioned the positive outcomes of the new layout. “Before the renovation, it wasn’t a particularly convenient hang-out spot, but now there’s a lot more space,” she said.
Townsend explained, “The new space can appeal to a wide variety, both those looking to study and those looking to just hang out. There’s a darker, cozy side where people can get together, but there’s also now the brighter side, which can be conducive to studying.”
Magdaleno said she never personally used the space as a study spot before because she prefers a quieter space to do her work. Now, however, she noted that, “The renovations open the Crafted Kup up to be a better place to study.”
But part of the appeal of the Crafted Kup is that it’s not only for Vassar students. “When I bought this place, my goal was to appeal to both Vassar and the community,” said Townsend. The Crafted Cup is within close proximity to Vassar on Raymond Avenue, which, Townsend believes is a very important street for the community.
“In fact, the bulk of our morning business are commuters on their way to work, and they usually stop by again on their way home,” Townsend said. He continued, “It’s nice to be able to have something to offer to both aspects of Poughkeepsie.”
Townsend also hopes to fill a void he feels the community has been missing for some time now. He said, “I built a small stage up in the front, and the plan is to do open mic once a week. I’d like to do a night of spoken word, and then also just book some local singer songwriter type acts.”
Townsend believes the new open mic space is a rarity around here and fills a much needed role of cross-community building. Townsend believes his plans have the power to bring Vassar students and Poughkeepsie residents together.
Magdaleno offered her own “two-cents” on the addition. “I think the addition of the open mic nights makes this more than just a coffee place,” she said.
Townsend sees the same vision for the Crafted Kup, and he has plans to make even more changes, this time to the menu. “We’ve got this demand for more substantial food items,” he elaborated in his WRRV interview, “and we hope to add breakfast sandwiches, as well as soup, salads and classic sandwiches to the menu in the coming months.”
The beverage menu at the Crafted Kup will be sporting more than just fruit smoothies, lattes and chai tea. Townsend obtained his beer and wine license and plans to include those items to the shop very soon.
Part of the appeal of the Crafted Kup to Vassar students is the fact that it is not directly on campus. Nelson explains, “I just like the act of getting off campus.” Before the expansion, Nelson continues, “You were never guaranteed a seat once you got here. The new renovations, however, definitely facilitate the need to go somewhere else, even if it’s just across the street.”
As we know, Sundays can be some of the busiest days at Crafted, and there is no doubt that was the case this week. Vassar students, young and old, were taking advantage of the new Crafted Kup this past Sunday. Many regulars from the Town of Poughkeepsie and Vassar gave kind congratulatory words to Townsend as they placed their orders.
“People are excited and really happy for me,” shared Townsend as more customers filtered in. After almost a year of planning, building and finalizing this transformation, Townsend created a new space for everybody, and the Vassar and Poughkeepsie communities have both come out in full forces to enjoy it.