NEW BRITAIN - Mayor Erin Stewart hosted a ribbon cutting-ceremony Tuesday morning for INI Sips, a coffee and tea shop the aims to bring the community together with unique seating, events and services.
“As you can see with the seating, we chose its setup so that people can really talk, communicate and be together, as opposed to having separate seats, and we’ve seen beautiful things happen,” said owner Davina Ismail. “We’ve seen people who didn’t know each other come in, sit at the same table, and they walk away just having a good time laughing and smiling.”
The location at 53 Columbus Blvd., owned by Gulaid and Davina Ismail, was converted from their previous DribbleBabies storefront to a cozy and intimate hangout space. It officially opened on Jan. 18.
“I think it’s a lovely and comfortable place and that’s what we need: a place where people want to hang out,” said Gerry Amodio, executive director of the New Britain Downtown District. “We haven’t had a coffee shop like this for years and I’m really glad it’s these guys, too. Gulaid and Davina are really nice people.”
“It’s good for the city and the area,” said Chamber of Commerce President Bill Moore. “You have a great shop here that has a great selection of not only coffee, but tea and an opportunity to spend a good afternoon here.”
INI Sips offers a variety of organic products that are direct-trade and sourced from around the world.
“We have Roll Call, which is our most popular [coffee], salted caramel, and then we have our house blend,” said Ismail. “And then the teas, we’re up to about 14 flavors. I think one thing people like a lot is that it’s all the real thing, so the Earl Grey Lavender, for example, has real lavender in it; the turmeric ginger, which is another popular one, has real chunks of ginger, lemon grass and orange peel, and is really flavorful.”
Products can be brewed on the spot.
“People always say when they get off the bus that they need somewhere to grab their coffee or tea, so I think she’s going to have a lot of success in this location and we certainly hope that our New Britain residents will support,” said Stewart. “Also, she’s close to City Hall, so I know we’ll get a lot of City Hall employees coming in on their breaks.”
INI Sips also features artwork from local artists including Elizabeth Ann McNally, which will be available for purchase.
“We are having events here, so in the next few weeks we’re having paint parties, we’re hoping to work with the New Britain Police Department to have a question-and-answer session, and we have a book author coming in to do a talk,” said Ismail. “I think we have five events in February and three in March.”
The Ismails started their new business by going to local farmers markets over the holidays, doing some Christmas events and selling products online. Since it was doing so well, they decided to make DribbleBabies’ items available online and used the space for INI Sips.
“We’re looking forward to the increase in foot traffic that will come with all the new residences happening downtown. We know in the next year New Britain is going to be very different with all the new places and things like that, so we’re excited about that,” said Ismail.
Ciara Hooks can be reached at 860-801-5082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.