How we got here...

The Mercury Cafe and Teahouse was born of two loves: Aaron's love of tea, coffee, and herbal brews, and Dwayne's love of craft beer, wine, and classic cocktails.

 

The heroes of our tale, Dwayne and Aaron, met in Michigan in 2007. Dwayne was happily working as a bartender and Aaron was a beleaguered intern at a local hospital. (But had the job not driven him to strong drink, they might never have met!). After four years together it was time for an adventure, so they set off for Portland, Oregon where Aaron went into private practice and Dwayne made his way into the world-class restaurant and craft beer scene.

Life was good, and Portland was, for their nine years there, a little slice of heaven. But Dwayne could never shake his lifelong dream of opening his own neighborhood bar (a dream which was hard to turn into a reality in Portland). Aaron, too, sometimes thought about making a change to spend more time with his family and to give more space to things that brought him joy. He started drinking tea in 2003 as a graduate student in New York, and his monthly trips to China Town in search of unique oolongs offered a much needed break from studying. It wasn't long before he went from being a casual tea drinker to an inveterate "lover of the leaf" and over the years he sometimes dreamed about opening a small teahouse to share his love of tea with others. When Dwayne and Aaron would talk about the future, Dwayne would sometimes say, "Wouldn't it be great if we could have a little café and bar and even live above it?" Many times they simply enjoyed talking about what, at the time, seemed like an impractical fantasy. And then life would go on…

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But something magical happened in November 2019. While visiting family in Delaware, they strolled through New Castle and saw the historic William Penn House for sale.

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They looked through the windows to see what was inside!

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Previously home to Trader's Cove Café, it was love at first sight, and with less than an hour to spare before their flight home to Portland they popped into the office of Tim Scully—local realtor extraordinaire!—and managed to take a quick tour of the building.

They quickly knew that this was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move closer to family, live in a historic home, and begin their new adventure.  


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And what an adventure it's been! Shortly after they began the process of purchasing the property (remotely from Portland) a global pandemic broke out, lending contracted, and multiple appraisals were arranged but never happened due to several complications. (Oy vey!) Over a five month period it more than once looked as though everything might fall through. What a rollercoaster ride it was! But the wheel was in motion and their home in Portland was sold, so on a rainy night in March they had no choice but to say goodbye to their wonderful—extraordinary—Portland family.

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Our two heroes piled into their Prius with their furry babies, Hans and Skeeter, and drove across the country, sometimes sleeping in the back of the car because hotels were closed due to COVID.

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Arriving in Delaware they spent over a month at a friend's house (Thank you, Hartmans!) while waiting for the sale of the William Penn House to be finalized. By then it was the middle of April 2020, and still they could not get an appraisal. They remained hopeful, but every day they made lots and lots of backup plans in case the sale did not go through. They did a lot of waiting.  And a lot of fretting.  And a lot of staring into space.

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Our little guys waited patiently too. (Mostly they just napped.)

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Finally, on May 1st, 2020, the sale went through and, as the proud new owners of a three hundred year old home and their very own binder of amortization tables, they moved in.  (Thanks in no small part to Aaron's parents Ron and Helen, we love you!)

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They celebrated with what they had on hand - a crumpled box of matzo hastily tossed into the car while frantically packing up Portland (What?! It's not like we baked it on our backs!).

What a long, long road it's been! And that's just the start! There were many projects to be done to make the building ready as a home and as another business. Although there have been many twists, turns, and challenges along the way, Dwayne and Aaron have been determined to persevere. They have put everything they have and all of themselves into this next chapter of their lives - for The Mercury is much more than a business: it is weaving of two dreams and two lives. And, now our dream is growing bigger to include the whole community we live in. We hope you love The Mercury as much as we do.