Walnut Beach Coffee House set to open

MILFORD — The last year has been quite a grind for Medina Cecunjanin and Sue Perkins.

The pair’s dream of opening their Walnut Beach Coffee House had to be pushed back due to construction delays and getting the lease agreement signed. But the journey is nearly complete as Cecunjanin and Perkins plan to open the doors to their Naugatuck Avenue coffee shop this week.

“I was doing my undergrad and graduate schooling in North Hampton, and there are lots of coffee shops there. That’s kind of the space that I lived in,” said Cecunjanin. “That’s where I wrote my best papers, met new people, and after I graduated with my master’s degree, I came down to live in Milford.”

Walnut Beach Coffee House planned to have a soft opening for family and friends on Friday, as long as the owners get approval from the health department, and the grand opening will be next week, either Thursday or Friday.

“We decided to do a soft opening, not the grand opening, this week because we are in the process of training,” said Cecunjanin. “We have lots of new workers, it’s a new space and new systems.”

Even though Cecunjnanin lived in Connecticut, she was not familiar with the Walnut Beach area. She decided to move into the community, and when her family or friends would come over, she was always looking for places to take them close to where she lived.

“I was passing by this spot, and I thought it would be a great spot for a coffee shop,” she said. “So I called the realty company that had their posting and started to have a discussion with them.”

About a year and a half after Cecunjanin had started with the coffee house project, Perkins came on as Cecunjanin’s partner and co-owner.

“I had started this project with my brother, but he got busy with his three little kids and his master’s program at Yale,” said Cecunjanin.

Perkins said they had worked together before at a Kohl’s. They met once again at a barbecue, and Perkins heard Cecujanin talk about the coffee house she was starting.

“I told her that was something I’ve always wanted to do my entire life is to own a coffee shop near a beach,” said Perkins. “We talked about it, explored all the options, and we just started.”

The location was an empty space, and Cecunjanin said it took nine months to negotiate the lease and, with construction, architecture and revamping of the space, the opening had to be put on hold.

“Now that we are getting close to the opening date, it’s been an emotional roller coaster,” said Cecunjanin. “I’m a social worker, so I still have my part-time job. So for me, it’s about navigating being a business owner, my part-time job and balancing life.”

“I’m excited. It’s been a long road,” said Perkins. “It’s going to be an adventure, and we are anticipating some ups and downs along the road, but it’s going to be amazing.”

She added that people have been walking by and asking them when the coffee house is opening.

“It’s nice when people pass by the window, peak in and ask when we’re going to open,” said Cecunjanin. “They are excited, which makes us excited.”

Besides being a traditional coffee house, the duo wants to be involved in the neighborhood and have events like paint night, game night, musical nights, seasonal events and more.

“We’re also going to pick a philanthropic cause or charity for that month or quarter and make a donation,” said Perkins.