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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Despite Pandemic, Coffeehouse Owner Optimistic

Oct 28, 2020 12:14PM ● By Chuck Tashjian
Opening a small business can be a risky proposition and running one during a pandemic is daunting. But when it's done right, the business becomes a seamless part of the community. Cilla's Coffeehouse in Norfolk belongs in that category.
The coffeehouse marked a milestone this past June: its five-year anniversary.  The occasion passed unceremoniously, however, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. The planned celebrations never took place, yet owner Mary Ellen Blue remains positive, saying she has never been more proud to be a member of the Blue family and a small business owner. Her father raised her and her eight siblings to strive to own and operate their own business, even if it's a grind.
From the very beginning, Blue said her goal for Cilla's, named after her mother Priscilla, was to model the coffeeshop on the Newton home she grew up in.
"People from all different walks of life came in and out of our home,” she shared. "That's what I wanted here--for everybody to feel welcome and to leave saying 'I like that place, it has a good atmosphere.’"
Cilla's is truly the community meet-up spot. Blue expressed that her customers are the reason she works so hard, saying, "That's the greatest part for me. Everybody has a story, and as they come in to get their coffee and we get to know each other, they end up feeling like family.”
Blue is a glass half-full type of person. The single Mom has learned to pivot while running her coffee shop, constantly trying new avenues in an effort to keep Cilla's up and running. What she is best known for is her coffee.  No matter the time of year, her cold brew remains her number one seller. Teaming up with the Muffin House and other small, local businesses has also proven to be successful. Customers can now get all their favorite products right here in town. She has supported local artists by allowing them to hang and sell their artwork, which has not only brightened up her walls, but given her complete joy when they are able to sell. 
Walk into her shop on any given day and you will see the place buzzing with people of all different ages. The community needed a place where they felt comfortable, and a menu which would accommodate everyone. Having four kids of her own, Blue is trying to figure out ways to help the parents get through this "new normal.” She will be introducing boxed lunches to-go, which parents can order days ahead or stop by and pick up. She is also open to suggestions from parents on ways that she can help. 
Blue emphasizes her appreciation for her incredible staff. "It is an absolute privilege to work with them,” she said. "Over the years, I've been able to work alongside my children, nieces, and nephews, and everyone else who has come on board ends up a part of our family as well, and that has been a gift."

It is no wonder that the Cilla's staff wear t-shirts emblazoned with a quote from Blue's father: "It's All About the Attitude.” Despite the worries of running a small business during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Blue remains upbeat and thankful for such a supportive customer base and community.
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