BENNINGTON -- Buying a cup of coffee on the way to work is often a quick stop at a fast-food drive thru. Wendy Callaert adds her own personal touch to that experience. She has a drive thru, but it's likely she will also address customers by name and knows how they take their coffee.
Callaert said Oma's Café Express, 336 North St., is more than just a stop. "We like to think of ourselves as a destination... (but) it's hard to get people to know that we have more than just coffee and pastries."
Besides Green Mountain Coffee, bagels from Crazy Russian Girls Bakery and pastries and bread from Bakkerij Krijnen, Callaert offers a full menu of breakfast sandwiches, paninis and all-natural smoothies. She also often picks out her produce from the local farmer's markets.
"Our prices are low; we take in the working-man's lunch crowd," Callaert said. After almost a year in business, Oma's now takes calls for delivery and small catering orders in town, "giving people more options while they are at work."
As much as she wanted to name her cafe Wendy's, the name was already taken. The grandmother of two with a third on the way re-opened what used to be Cathy's Coffee with her husband, Kris, in May 2013. She named it "Oma's" after the Dutch word for grandma.
Family-oriented and welcoming, Callaert thinks of herself more as a part of a person's day. Oma's holds raffles to raise money for the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless and sells paintings by Bob Mould, a local artist. "We want to be more than just another business -- we want to be a part of the community," Callaert said.
Like many businesses, Oma's gives out stamp cards to reward regular customers with a free cup of coffee once in a while. A file box on the counter contains hundreds of partially filled cards with customers' names on them. Callaert pulls one out when she sees a familiar face approaching. She said it's more convenient for her customers for her to hang on to them, and it helps her remember names.
Oma's is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon.
Contact Tom Momberg at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg