Terry Cosgrove and Holly Harmon have combined art and coffee, creating memories and lively conversation. But more over they have created an air of sophistication in a home town relaxing environment that helps visitors to the Village feel at home.
Terry Cosgrove grew up in Pennsylvania, but he traveled extensively during his 30 year career in the Navy. Holly was born and raise on a cattle ranch in Utah. Her high school years were spent in California. Terry met Holly in Long Beach California while he was stationed out West. The couple married 15 years ago.
When Terry was stationed in Dahlgren after the first Gulf war in 1991 he purchased a house in Montross and rented it out when he was stationed elsewhere. The couple decided to settle here after Terry’s Naval career.
As far back as she can remember, Holly has always been an artist. “My mom saved a drawing I drew when I was 22 months old.” She has explored many forms of art including photography, watercolors, acrylics and jewelry. “I’ve always done things with my hands.”
Terry dabbled in photography before joining the Navy. He joined to become a Naval Photographer.
During his tour of duty the Navy progressed to digital photography, not so much for the convenience but to eliminate unneeded chemicals on ships.
When Terry decided to retire in 2006 he wanted to settle down in the Montross area. The couple thought about opening an art gallery in Montross.
Holly had owned a studio gallery in California but the couple felt a gallery alone would not sustain itself in Montross. So they decided to combine a coffee shop with art. Terry jokes, “30 years in the Navy uniquely qualified me to make coffee.”
The couple purchased an old gas station and transformed it into The Art of Coffee. Terry had a little less than a year in the Navy so Holly operated the shop for the first year.
Holly said during the first years the restaurant kept a guest book, “I was just astonished at the locations people who visited, came from. Austrailia, the UK it was amazing. We get a lot of tourists but many locals as well.”
Unlike other local restaurants that close in the winter Holly and Terry stay open through the lean months in winter to provide for local customers and keep their employees employed.
Holly said, “We have amazing employees” Because it is a small business they cross train all of their employees. Many of their employees began while in High School and stay for a long time. Their baristas play a big role in creating new drinks. A barista is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. The industry-wide standard length of time for a barista to stay in one job is 2 years, however many of their baristas stay well over 5 years.
All the food is art inspired with sandwiches named Di Vinci, and Mona. “We roast our own meats for sandwiches. We’re pretty proud of how far we have come.” Terry said, “We make our own soups, quiche, sauces and gravies.”
The restaurant has bakers who bake breads, cookies and pastries to sell in house and retail. The restaurant also caters events. They have catered up 125 people in local events but shy away from weddings. “We don’t have the serving staff to properly cater a wedding.” Terry said.
Last year the restaurant received their ABC license. They serve wine, beer and limited mixed beverages such as Kahlua and coffee or Baileys and coffee, “we don’t serve gin or whiskey.” Terry said.
In the summer months on Friday’s and Saturday’s they offer happy hour and seafood. The bar serves mostly coffee based drinks with liquors.
But the art is what rounds the experience out. With 11 other artists’ work displayed along with Holly’s the coffee shop offers some unique conversation atmosphere.
A Waterman might sit next to a lawyer and they will talk. People of all walks of life gather and make new friendships and conversation. Terry said, “You can find out the weather, politics and what fish are running in the morning over one cup of coffee.”
The art or artist must be local or Northern Neck inspired. This allows visitors to take home memories from their visit, rather than just a souvenir. Holly said, “People want to take home a little memento of the time they spend here. That’s what this art does.”
The shop/gallery features a variety of traditional style art and crafts including pottery with a sharks teeth motif, quilts, blankets, hats, photography, jewelry, hand carved walking sticks from local wood and paintings of various mediums featuring Northern Neck subject matter.
The store uses and sells honey from a local bee keeper as well as local Virginia beer and wine.
There are several groups of locals, who gather to talk over coffee, breakfast or lunch, from high school students to ladies and mens groups. The patio is pet friendly in the summer time.
The Art of Coffee is located at 15722 Kings Hwy in Montross, VA. To call for catering or any questions dial 804 493 9651. Regardless of when or why you visit the Art of Coffee you will come away with a warm heart, a full belly and memories from lively conversation.
Linda Farneth is a Westmoreland News reporter.