If you grew up in Fairfield county, mainly in the Greenwich area, then Ada’s Candy store in Riverside is probably near and dear to your heart. For over 60 years, the popular candy counter was a staple by the Riverside train station. Ada, a bit of a local celebrity herself, was affectionately known as “the candy lady.” Sadly, she passed in 2008 and the store closed a few years ago to give the building Ada’s is housed in (dating back to the 1800s) a much needed refresh. But, we’re excited that as of Monday, February 22nd, Ada’s is open for business and reborn as Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee.

Front steps of the former Ada’s Variety Shop, newly renovated by Ada’s family and opening as Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee on Monday, February 22nd.
Front steps of the former Ada’s Variety Shop, newly renovated by Ada’s family and opening as Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee on Monday, February 22nd.

The newly renovated space (the refresh was overseen by Ada’s nieces and nephews) will of course offer candy and confections but it will also serve artisanal coffee and locally sourced food. The menu will be seasonal and the coffee will come from Path Coffee Roasters in Port Chester, NY. Some menu highlights include the egg sandwiches on homemade English muffins or made from scratch buttermilk biscuits. For lunch, the meatball parm and rare roast beef sandwiches and the salads and bowls are highlights! And for dessert? Homemade ice cream sandwiches!

Adas Kitchen + Coffee logo

We spoke with Ada’s new owner Mike Pietrafeso and Katie Watson of Watson Interior Design who helped create the interior aesthetic about putting a fresh take on the classic spot—while keeping its integrity in tact!

Serendipity: How did you come up with the new concept for Ada’s? Why not reopen as a candy store?

Mike Pietrafeso: My uncle (Mike DiStefano of Greenwich’s Harlequin Flooring) met Ron Romaniello (Ada’s nephew) and they started talking about the renovations and how Ron and his family wanted to offer food when the store re-opened. I had been wanting to open my own café and was actively looking at spaces in Fairfield County, so my Uncle told Ron to connect with me, and the rest is history. Because of the incredible location, the ‘Kitchen + Coffee’ concept was a perfect fit. I wanted to offer the scratch made food I specialized in, great tasting coffee because of the local commuters and families, and of course, the candy to keep with the Ada’s tradition.

Ada's English Muffin
Ada’s English Muffin

Serendipity: What nostalgic touches will customers who grew up at Ada’s be happy to find?

MP: Because of the historic building, we wanted the interior to be a melding of the old and new. We enlisted the help of our good friend, Katie Watson, owner of Watson Interior Design, to design an interior that would pay homage to the old Ada’s Variety Shop and at the same time, be an inviting new space to bring my concept to life.

Chef and business owner Mike Pietrafeso making coffee

Katie Watson: I was so excited when my friends, Mike and Krista approached me to help them with this project because I grew up going to Ada’s. My goal for the interior design of the space was to create an updated rustic interior with some industrial touches. I think we achieved the perfect balance of preserving the historic charm of Ada’s while adding modern touches. The walls feature old photos of Ada and her family, old articles and even copies of the certificates of authorization for the post office [the building was a post office in the 1800s], signed by each president from the late 1800s/early 1900s. Finally, the biggest piece of Ada’s history can be found in the candy corner. An assortment of the favorite candies so many generations of kids had come to enjoy and still reminisce about!

Serendipity: What do you think it was about the old store—and now the opening of the new shop—that makes local residents so happy?

MP: The history. Ada and her candy shop had such an impact on so many lives. So many people who stopped by over the weekend had a story to tell about their visits with Ada. Riding their bikes twice a week to visit and get candy. The natives are so happy that her family has created this opportunity to continue the history. And now, with the new space, there is something for everyone.

For more information, check out www.AdasKitchenandCoffee.com

What are your memories of Ada? Will you be visiting the new spot? Please tweet us your memories at @serendipitysoci!