When Matthew Chu bought the Belly Buster Sub Shop business and property, he knew two things: that he was going to have to do some work, and that part of that work was to open a coffee shop.
On April 3, he opened the coffee shop – which is called Old 82 Brew – after renovating the interior of the building at 6949 Warren Sharon Road, Brookfield.
He’s not done.
In the future, he will roll out other business uses for the property, but work to improve the outside of the building and unused property he also owns will be done later this year.
“I knew coming in this was a fixer-upper,” Chu said.
The interior renovation – which included new electrical wiring and plumbing – got rid of the wall that had separated Belly Buster from the former Brookfield Gardens, making the space much more open for employees and customers. Old 82 Brew occupies the east side of the building, but there’s no separation from it and Belly Buster.
Old 82 Brew serves traditional coffee and decaf, as well as espresso, cappuccino and lattes, the beans coming from Top Shelf Coffee Co. of Warren.
“We are going to rotate the blends,” Chu said. “Right now, we’re opening up, getting used to the flow of things.”
Rosemary Tice of Vienna bakes the cinnamon buns, bear claws and danishes the coffee shop also sells.
“We’re trying to get people to sit down, chat with their friends, drink some coffee, eat some pastries,” Chu said.
To that end, Chu has noticed that people are holding business meetings at the coffee shop.
“That was the goal,” he said.
The coffee shop opens at 6 a.m. to serve early commuters.
“We looked at some data, and a lot of the people here in Brookfield leave for work between 6 and 7 a.m., so I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every day, come over and open,” Chu said. “We actually get a decent number of people coming in. A lot of younger people, we’re trying to get that crowd in. It’s been pretty successful so far. We’re just trying to expand the market.”
There have been people buying subs and coffee, so the two enterprises are complementing each other, he said.
Next up is an exterior renovation of the building, and tearing down the old gas station at the corner of Route 7 to create a new parking area. Chu noted that, at times, the existing parking lot has been full, and he has seen people turn around and leave.
“I was very sad because that’s missed business,” he said.
Chu also has plans for the remaining unused space in the building, behind the coffee shop, and for the old greenhouses behind the building, but he doesn’t want to reveal his ideas.
“We still have a lot more we plan to do,” he said. “It’s just one step at a time.”
Chu, who moved to Brookfield in July 2021, said his impressions of the Brookfield community are “very, very positive. The people, they like to see improvements.”
Referring to other changes in town, such as the development of the Maker Space at Brookfield schools, the building of a Frito-Lay distribution center and the new owners at Mr. D’s Delicious Fresh Foods, he said, “Brookfield is kind of on an upswing. There’s been a much more positive vibe, positive outlook here in Brookfield, I feel. I think people like it.”