MYSTIC, CONN. – On September 30, 2016, Amtrak and local officials joined residents at the Mystic station to celebrate the grand opening of Mystic Depot Roasters, a new café and gift shop located inside the historic building. Following the ribbon cutting, guests were invited to tour the space and enjoy food, drinks and music.
When a previous tenant decided to vacate the depot in spring 2015, it meant that rail customers no longer had access to the waiting room and restrooms. Amtrak, which owns the structure, subsequently began searching for a new business to fill the space. The company selected a local businessman’s proposal because he had a vision of a community café and gift shop that would enliven the depot throughout the day and ensure interior access for rail customers. In a nod to the site’s history, many of the soups, salads and sandwiches on the menu take their names from railroad terms.
David Crompton, owner of Mystic Depot Roasters, says, “My wife and I loved the old station and the setting in the Mystic area… [it] was a beautiful piece of Mystic history that needed to be revived.” The depot was erected by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1905 and is the third to stand in the area. It features Georgian Revival elements, such as Palladian windows, married with informal, shingled walls.
Before moving in, the couple undertook an extensive rehabilitation project to prepare the space for food service. They upgraded electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems, installed accessible restrooms, reconfigured the basement drainage system, patched the roof and installed exhaust fans. Workers also refinished the floors and walls, repaired windows and painted the building inside and out.
“[The depot] was a beautiful piece of Mystic history that needed to be revived…Words can’t describe the satisfaction we get from visitors commenting positively about the station and the atmosphere that has been realized from our vision.” – David Crompton, owner, Mystic Depot Roasters
The Cromptons stayed true to the depot’s past by using historic period paints and maintaining the original character of the woodwork. “We added some features such as a ticket window from a mid-west bank and luggage racks from an old rail line,” says Crompton. “Words can’t describe the satisfaction we get from visitors commenting positively about the station and the atmosphere that has been realized from our vision.”
“David Crompton’s commitment to the community is represented by the restoration of this historic facility. Mystic Depot Roasters will stimulate the kind of economic activity that Amtrak passenger rail supports and appreciates,” says Linda Frankel, Amtrak senior real estate development manager. “Amtrak is dedicated to making these types of developments happen alongside amazing partners like David, who without his vision, resources and dedication it would not be possible.”
In fiscal year 2015, nearly 24,000 customers began or ended their journey at the Mystic station, which is served daily by various Northeast Regional (Boston-New York-Washington) trains.