Coffee /VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
Millis Clicquot Coffee Caffeinates Dining Out Scene in Millis,
Coffee by day, cocktails and jazz
music by night, this welcoming, cozy modern spot
offers a touch of New York City in one of the smallest suburbs of Boston
Dining area at Millis Clicquot Coffee.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 2/14/2020.
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New York City native Alan Sky
is in a Millis state of mind.
Trading in the bright lights and big city thrills of The Big Apple for
bright stars under the big sky, Alan recently opened Millis Clicquot
Coffee in Millis, Mass. His charming downtown spot
features a vintage-style coffee and cocktail lounge with organic
coffee, craft cocktails, light meals, homemade baked goods brought in
fresh from George's Bakery in Medford, Mass. and live music on
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7-10 p.m. with a concentration on
jazz music. Hakeem Law, who has played with The Drifters and The
Platters and served as a private instructor at The Berklee College of
Music in Boston, Mass., takes front and center stage as the house
musician within a classic piano bar setting.
Hakeem Law. Photo credit: Millis Clicquot Coffee.
"Many times at other places, people find it hard to talk over the
music," said Sky. "Here, people talking are the loudest thing in the
room. We take into account ambiance and atmosphere."
Sky knew the challenges of opening a
business in a small town specializing in coffee but passionately forged ahead with his
vision that clearly goes far beyond offering a cup of joe.
"The sign says coffee bar but what does that really mean?," said Sky.
"We are certainly not like the chains. In this area, you have Dunkin'
Donuts, Starbucks and long-established locally-owned places... and it's
difficult to compete
with them. Our prices are not inexpensive, It's high-quality organic.
We provide an experience. Not just coffee but cocktails, small plates
and entertainment. It's working out well. The town is changing and has
shown major support for
what we are doing."
A cup of high-quality coffee.
Millis Clicquot Coffee uses a La Marzocco espresso machine which is
"classic Ferrari of coffee machines" according to Sky. The sourcing is
using Stone Street Coffee, a prominent artisinal coffee roaster
out of Brooklyn, N.Y. Stone Street Coffee roasts the coffee
and delivers it to Millis Clicquot Coffee overnight, much to the
delight of Millis area residents.
Stone Street Coffee display.
Millis Clicquot Coffee offers French-pressed dark roast (Sumatra
Indonesia), medium roast (Columbian blend) and light roast
as well as espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados,
and caramels. In the evening, drinks like the Irish coffees and
espresso martinis take the spirited evening shift, along with the
impressive offerings of crafted cocktails.
Cocktail from Millis Clicquot Coffee Bar. Photo credit: Millis
Astonishingly, this address most recently housed a Subway
sandwich shop. As the ultimate expression of an extreme restaurant
makeover, no traces of that chain exist in the new digs with the
exception of the original Subway door. The high wood
ceiling with modern fans, skylights, sparkling wood floors, sofa
chairs, hanging lights and a breakfast/bar section with counter and
stools add up to something sophisticated but, at the same, time, warm
and inviting. It's a place to stay for a while as opposed to a quick
Subway ride to the fast food counter.
"We gutted every millimeter of the space and it took about a year to
transform it," said Sky. "Everything here is brand new."
The modern setting provides an interesting juxtaposition to an older
version of Millis seen from outside a window...
Modern interior, and the small town look of Millis outside the
"There's a very specific flow to the culture here being very different
that what I am used to -- coming for the city that never sleeps," said
Sky. "But it is working out very well. I love it here. The community is
welcoming. You get to know people quickly. We see regulars. This has
become an outlet for many people on the weekends -- a place they can
get away to for a while and leisurely enjoy the experience."
Whether on the weekend or a quieter but still busy weekday, Millis
Clicquot Coffee has a personality of its own with various factors
creating a fabulous experience.
"With the live music going and the food and drink, it is really
exciting to see this type of music cafe here in Millis," said Sky.
The Inspiration Behind Millis Clicquot Coffee
Sky meets with a customer.
Several years ago, a cousin of Sky's opened Bathtub Gin in
New York City, a popular 9th Avenue 1920s speakeasy-style gin joint
cocktails, whiskeys, coffees, dinners, brunch and
entertainment. Sky -- working as a partner and expert barista -- found
the experience rewarding and with many connections made along the way
including celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Kelsey Grammer and Alan
Cummings frequenting the place.
One connection, however, resonated more than anyone else to Sky. A
security guard introduced "this girl, Layla" from Dover, Mass. to Sky.
fell in love, ended up marrying and having a child. Layla wanted to
live closer to home, so they moved to Millis -- one town away from
Dover. The move resulted in a bit of a culture shock for Sky, moving
from a city of 8.6 million to a semi-rural town of about 8,000.
Route 109 in Millis.
Sky found the town charming, friendly and with shifting
demographics potentially beneficial to opening a business. Every few
years, a Boston suburb is "discovered"
and Millis is riding that wave right now as a pleasant, safe,
relatively affordable place to live. It's a town where scenic wide
open spaces peacefully co-exist with a solid economic development plan
-- and neither entity getting in the way of each other. Millis Clicquot
right in the middle of that exciting transformation as a type of
Millis has not seen before.
"We wanted to have that Bathtub Gin type of vibe" said Sky, of Millis
"We do have the bagels and coffee in the day but on weekend nights, you
kind of have this jazz club cafe type of place with
candles, jazz playing and a focus on the 1920s type cocktails."
Evening ambiance. Photo credit: Millis Clicquot Coffee.
The History Behind the Name
A retro Clicquot Ginger Ale graces the wall at Millis Clicquot
Sky possesses an interest in history and a thirst for knowledge, which
is reflected in the Millis
Clicquot Coffee name. Clicquot Club Company, with its former
headquarters in Millis,
once reigned as one of the largest beverage companies in the world.
Founded in 1881, Clicquot first became well known for selling sparkling
cider called Clicquot -- named after the famous French Champagne, Veuve
The company eventually stopped selling the sparkling cider and focused
more on soft drinks, most notably its ginger ale made from Jamaican
ginger and Cuban pure refined sugar. Cott bought the company in 1965
but the more prominent soft drink companies we know today eventually
caused Clicquot/Cott to fizz out and close in 1980. Canada Dry
bought Cott but the original Clicquot name never again sparkled the
drink industry, It was quite a blow to the town, as many residents
worked at the one-third of a mile building that even had its own train
Very few people know this but Millis also once served as a resort
getaway town for Bostonians in the early 20th century. The fresh air,
rural feel, its scenic presence on the Charles River (yes, the same one
that you see in Boston and Cambridge) and close proximity to
the city provided a welcome respite from the faster pace and more dense
population. It still does, but here is in the 21st century that means
residing in the town and often commuting to more populated areas for
The Charles River in Millis.
Sky coined the name Millis Clicquot Coffee as an ode to the town's
storied history. He, however, experienced a brief hiccup with the
restaurant's name that no one could have ever predicted. While Sky
enthusiastically grew his business in the town he had come to love, one
world's largest luxury corporations, unexpectedly in late 2019, served
cease-and-desist letter for Alan to use the Clicquot name. Veuve
French Champagne company with ownership of luxury brands like Tiffany
and Luis Vuitton, told Sky that they needed exclusivity with
its name. It didn't make sense to Sky as there is even a
census-designated Clicquot-Millis neighborhood in town with its name
being fully intact for generations.
For a small business owner like Sky, this meant potentially changing
the LLC, website, social media pages, marketing materials and its $4k
sign. He thought about closing for a while and rebranding the business.
"It was basically France against us," said Sky. "They are a huge
Clicquot had a change of heart and a resolution was reached that allowed
Alan to keep the
Millis Clicquot name.
"We hugged and everything is good now," said Alan. "We will not be
changing anything and we are happy for that. Yeah, it's a relief!"
Chicken quesadilla. Photo credit; Millis Clicquot Coffee.
The menu is still developing with a focus on foods ideally
coffees and cocktails. Currently, Millis Clicquot Coffee
specializes in wraps and crepes
(including ham and cheese and Nutella and jam!) with some of the
menu items to center around Caprese, tuna and chicken salads, turkey
and cheese and smoked
salmon Boursin cheese. Stay tuned for updates!
Here is the planned menu for the near future...
Chips and soft cheese spread (Boursin)
Arugula mix greens strawberries salad
Mixed green avocado
Mixed greens garden apple
Add a topping: walnut cranberry chicken salad
Chilled roasted chicken
Willow Tree Chicken salad
Soup of the day
Kettle One Cuisine
Tuna melt with tomato and cheese
Chicken salad with shredded lettuce tomato
Honey ham and cheese with shredded lettuce, tomato onion, spicy
Prosciutto with roasted pepper, tomato, Caprese, mixed greens, balsamic
Chopped chicken, cheese, tomato
Veggies with cheese
Millis Clicquot Coffee also offers excellent muffins created by
Banana Nut Muffin.
and breakfast sandwiches...
Bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel.
The Exciting Future Ahead for Millis Clicquot Coffee
Sky has smartly taken a little bit of the city
and wonderfully gifted it to Millis in the form of a dining and
establishment. He recognizes Millis' glorious past
and has incorporated it into Millis Clicquot Coffee whether it be
tribute to the soda company or its former presence as a resort town.
That last element draws an important nexus: Alan wants Millis Clicquot
Coffee to serve as a respite from the world, a temporary but
getaway and an overall relaxing place to be.
"I want to tie into history like Bathtub Gin has done in New York
said Alan. "Here, we have a warm, connected community in Millis that
evolving. A long time ago, this was a resort town, you had the Clicquot
factory, a shoe factory and farms. Millis is still developing. So
are we, trying to reflect the growth of the town. And the town has
welcomed us so nicely."
Coffee is located at 1060 Main St. (Route
109), Millis MA. Tel.
Web site: https://www.millisclicquot.com/
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Bar/Millis-Clicquot-Coffee-Bar-100953838078575
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