In 2002, during a rapid expansion in healthcare, Lauren Parker declared that she wanted to get out of healthcare and open a tea shop. Over the next 10 years, this statement would occasionally trickle to the front of some conversations but in 2009, an actual plan to be able to do this came to fruition. As 2012, brought the last college graduation, the decision was made to move forward.
Before the end of the year, Becky Parker had added a wine bar to the business roster and Wes Parker had created the idea for a downtown tech services and consulting business. What is driving the business is the theory that if you do what you love and do it well, you will succeed. The interest in learning about tea and wine and sharing the knowledge with the Central Vermont community is the primary motivation behind the Café and 20+ years of computer support and consulting rounded out the multi-service approach to The North Branch.
Along the journey we have added delicious local Vermont foods and baked goods under the careful supervision of our food manager, Donia Prince. We have Vermont cheeses, served with local bread, local pita or gluten free crackers. We also have homemade hummus and olive tapenade served with bread or vegetables. The sweet tastings range from traditional apple strudel to sugar free date bites and a wide range of shortbread flavors. We are pleased to offer several safe gluten free desserts (including the most delicious cupcakes you will ever eat) and savory plates. Our roster of Vermont bakers is always growing and our offerings will expand to meet the requests of our customers.
We aim to provide an aesthetically pleasing space ideal for various gatherings. In addition to the large and open main space, The North Branch also has a room--we call the Library--that will be available for reservation. This room will be used for trainings, tastings, pairings, small parties and other gatherings. When the Library is not reserved for other purposes, enjoy the quiet space to read, write, listen to music and enjoy the tranquility of the North Branch of the Winooski River.
One of our primary goals at The North Branch Café is to create a Tea & Wine learning experience. Tea and Wine are two of the world’s most popular beverages and they are growing with impressive momentum in the US. Upon entering the café you will be welcomed with 80-85 loose tea leaf options. Ask to smell the tea and choose either tea-for-one (served in a double wall glass tea cup) or tea-for-two (served in a glass teapot). Look through the extensive descriptions of the tea offerings and understand where they come from and how they differ from each other. Expand your knowledge of tea and develop your taste buds for White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea and Herbal Tisanes.
Featured at the Wine Bar is an innovative wine service called the Enomatic. This system keeps wine fresh, maintains the perfect temperatures and allows guests to choose a one-ounce tasting, a 2 ounce tasting or full-glass (5 ounces) of any of the eight featured wines. For those interested in keeping track of the wines you have tasted, the system is capable of this as well. Because we want to encourage a sense of adventure, our wine selection will change regularly. Taste a few different wines, at the quantity you desire, compare the flavors and aromas, and enjoy expanding your wine experiences.
In our small gift shop we sell the works of local artisans as well as other specialty items. Currently includes two local potters (Enid Angstreich and Bonnie Seideman), a glass blowing team from Burlington (AO Glass), maple serving trays from Manchester (JK Adams), Scottish shortbread from Bolton (Douglas Sweets), maple syrup from East Montpelier (Bragg Farm) and local children’s tea from Warren (The Groove Tea Project). Check out our Facebook page for ongoing information about our artisans and current activities at The North Branch.
Wifi is available in the café for our customers. In the adjoining space, The North Branch Technical Services and Consulting offers specified services to local businesses and the community for computer networking and fine-tuning. Classes will be offered periodically to help you keep your computer safe from viruses and in top operating condition.
Lauren, Wes, and Becky Parker, who have lived in Montpelier for 25 years, welcome you to The North Branch!