After more than a year of planning and development, the historic Raymond-Morehouse Building at Sharp Hill Square (200 Danbury Rd.) is now home to a new cafe in Wilton.
Nova Cafe, the brainchild of Felipe Pelaez, is a culmination of passion, dedication, and a long-standing family connection to coffee. Pelaez, who also owns Tazza in Ridgefield, officially opened the restaurant’s doors at the 180-year-old property on July 29.
Pelaez’s passion for coffee dates back to his childhood in Colombia, where his family’s deep-rooted connection to coffee cultivation and roasting instilled a love for the beverage that continues to drive his career.
“I grew up in Colombia, and my grandfather on my father’s side was a coffee grower. My other grandfather ran cafes, and I used to work with him since I was 10 or 11 years old,” Pelaez said.
When the opportunity arose to open a new restaurant in Wilton, Pelaez quickly seized it. Collaborating with the property owner Patrick Downend, who had admired Tazza’s success in Ridgefield, they set their sights on the historic Raymond-Morehouse Building.
“The developer mentioned that he bought this property and wanted a concept like the one I run in Ridgefield. Once you have it ready, I’ll be more than happy to do it,” Pelaez recalled.
The restoration and design of the first floor of the Raymond-Morehouse Building required meticulous attention to detail. With a vision to maintain its historical character while infusing modern elements, the team collaborated closely with the landlord.
“We wanted to keep the house as original as possible while adding some modern industrial looks and textures,” Pelaez explained.
The process was not without its challenges, as the team carefully selected materials to strike the perfect balance between old-world charm and contemporary flair.
Pelaez’s wife, Adena Manna, who loves interior design, played a significant role in creating the cafe’s unique atmosphere.
“She wanted to do something a little different, mixing colors, themes, and styles to create a more sophisticated concept,” Pelaez said.
When it came to the menu, Pelaez’s vision was to provide a space where people could enjoy a fast and efficient dining experience without compromising quality. The menu boasts various offerings, from fresh paninis, wraps, and salads to protein shakes and top-notch coffee.
Pelaez held Nova Cafe’s grand opening on the last Saturday in July, with a soft opening strategy in the days before to make sure his team could ensure a smooth and exceptional customer experience before making a splash in the community.
“We want to do it right and create the noise that we really want at the right time,” he said.
Looking to the future, Pelaez hopes to foster a sense of community while giving back. Similar to operations at Tazza, he plans on participating in local events, and donating coffee and baked goods to support community causes.
“We want to be involved with the community and help as we’ve done in other towns,” he said.
Ultimately, Pelaez sees Nova as a destination where people want to meet for a cup of coffee, a quality breakfast, and simply have a good time.
As Nova Cafe embraces its new home in Wilton, Pelaez offers some solid advice to budding entrepreneurs: “Work hard and be good to others. Set your dreams and goals, write them down, throw them out into the universe, and they will become reality.”
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to reflect that although Adena Manna was significantly involved in creating the look of Nova Cafe, she is not an interior designer by profession.