Dagsboro coffee shop the result of a dream allowed to percolate

Date Published: 
Dec. 29, 2017

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Dana Miller, left, Patrick Miller, center, and Audrey Miller hope their new coffee shop, Dagsboro Days, located on Main Street in Dagsboro, will become a popular meeting spot for locals and visitors.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Dana Miller, left, Patrick Miller, center, and Audrey Miller hope their new coffee shop, Dagsboro Days, located on Main Street in Dagsboro, will become a popular meeting spot for locals and visitors.In a small alcove built into the wall above shelves bearing bags of locally sourced, organic coffee, sits a large coffee cup. And by coffee cup, we mean, literally, a coffee cup. It’s a takeout cup completely covered in coffee beans. A well-worn cup, each bean carefully glued to its outer surface.

That cup, it turns out, served as the impetus for what is now the newest addition to Dagsboro’s Main Street businesses.

It was given to Dana Miller, who owns the new Dagsboro Days coffee shop, by her friend Tasha, 11 years ago. It bore the message “One bean at a time, and when gathered, a whole pot will brew.”

For years, Miller said, the cup collected spare change. It also served as a kind of talisman that kept her dream alive over the years. Her daughter Audrey Miller, who now works in the shop with both of her parents — Dana and her husband, Patrick — remembers the cup being around when she was younger.

She also remembers something else that inspired her mom: a love for coffee, which Dana passed on to her daughter at an early age.

“I was doomed from the start,” Audrey Miller said with a chuckle.

Sitting at a front table in the shop, which opens officially Jan. 1, Dana Miller recalled how trips to Italy inspired her, igniting in her a desire to replicate what she experienced at coffee shops there.

“Seeing how people came in and either get their shot of espresso at the counter and continued on with their day, or sat and connected...”

That word — “connect.” That’s what Miller said she wanted to foster in her own coffee shop someday.

“We need more of that,” she said. Like the legendary bar where “everybody knows your name,” Miller said, “I want this to be a place where people come and connect. I envision a gathering place.”

Although, early last week, the shop had only been open for a few days in “soft-opening” mode, Dana Miller said she was already seeing that starting to happen at Dagsboro Days. It seems many in town have been anxiously watching the progress of the new shop since the Millers purchased the building in May.

She recalled a woman who was out walking one recent day, who poked her head in the door and said, “You’re here! We’re ready for you!” and then resumed her walk.

“I love that!” Miller said.

Audrey Miller, a 25-year-old business major who comes to the shop as the “brains” of the operation, according to her mom, said the soft opening has been a great way to get to know the community and vice-versa.

“We walked down the street and made connections with people,” she said.

Dana Miller actually already had set down some roots in town, while working at the nearby Jayne’s Reliable furniture store.

Audrey Miller joins her parents in the shop after four years with Habitat for Humanity, having started its neighborhood revitalization program in Laurel. She sees her new role as similar, in some ways, to her former job, as both involve — there’s that word again — connections. The family hopes that by breathing new life into the circa-1950 building, they will be part of a rebirth of the town’s downtown business area.

Not lost on any of the Millers is the fact that, just down Piney Neck Road is a major attraction in the making: the Delaware Botanic Gardens, currently in the early stages of construction, which could attract more visitors to the generally quiet town than it has ever seen before.

While they are excited by the prospect of the gardens’ benefit to the town, they are focused for now on the folks who currently pass by the shop every day.

“We are hoping to attract commuters — we have heard from a lot of teachers that they hope we’ll be open early in the morning so they can stop in,” Dana Miller said.

The shop has already hosted its first “gathering” — the annual Christmas luncheon for Town of Dagsboro staff, which they admitted was a bit of an inside job, since Patrick Miller is a member of the town council. But employees at other businesses in town have already begun calling and placing lunch orders.

The shop’s specialty is obviously its coffee, which comes from Easton, Md.-based Rise Up Coffee Roasters. Dagsboro Days currently offers three types of Rise Up’s fair trade-certified, organic coffee. Dana Miller said she and her family were attracted to Rise Up because of the company’s emphasis on people.

They were also impressed, she said, by the fact that Rise Up took the time to train the Millers in how best to prepare their coffee, including a visit to the Easton roastery, where they practiced their pours on Rise Up’s own customers.

The menu at Dagsboro Days also includes a selection of buns, donuts, cookies and sandwiches, which currently change often as the family finds what works best and what their customers ask for. Audrey Miller said the soft opening has given her a chance to experiment with the menu.

Dana Miller said she wants to have a “combination of sweet and savory” on the menu, with possibilities including grilled sandwiches and frittatas, in addition to the sweet offerings, and bagels supplied by A Bagel And of Ocean Pines, Md. She envisions Dagsboro Days as a spot where folks can stop in and get a nice cup of coffee and something satisfying to eat.

“It’s absolutely terrifying… and exciting!” Dana Miller said of the process of bringing her dream to reality right there in downtown Dagsboro. “To see something you’ve always thought about come to fruition…”

Part of the joy of opening a business in a building with some age on it, she said, is that “locals have been stopping in and telling us that they remember hanging out here” when it was a pizza place, and in many of the brick building’s other iterations. At one point, they’ve learned, it was home to a pet shop.

As for the newest owners, Dana Miller said she and her family hope to make their own memories for themselves and their customers for years to come.

Dagsboro Days is located at 33103 Main Street, Dagsboro. For more information, call (302) 927-0556 or visit the shop’s Facebook page. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1. Beginning Jan. 3, hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Dagsboro Days will be closed on Tuesdays.