Coffee & Cotton Welcomes Back Brendan Pelley
Mill No. 5 would like to officially welcome Brendan Pelley as the new General Manager of Coffee & Cotton and Dows Soda Fountain. Brendan first came to Mill No. 5 in 2018 as a consulting chef where he created new menus and initiated sourcing relationships with local farmers and vendors. After a year, Brendan’s desire to manage a full service restaurant was still strong so he took a position as Executive Chef of Groton’s Gibbet Hill Grill.
Brendan began working in the restaurant industry in his early teens and over the course of 10 years, he worked his way up the ladder the “old-fashioned way” so to speak, first as a bus-boy, then later as a waiter, a barista and then moved into the kitchen working with and learning from award winning chefs in Boston. His talent brought him to the screen as he spent time on Hell’s Kitchen and Beat Bobby Flay. He has worked in farm-to-table bistros, created a pop-up restaurant and has cooked in a 300 seat fine dining restaurant in the Back Bay district of Boston.
During the Pandemic, Dows Soda Fountain was closed and Coffee & Cotton was working with a skeleton crew and limited beverage options. Food was not being served. A few months ago when things were beginning to reopen, Brendan was brought on again as a consultant, but both he and Mill No. 5 owner Jim Lichoulas realized that this was a great time to start fresh for both parties. And this time around it just so happened that the role of General Manager was available.
“Running a restaurant through the pandemic was super challenging but it gave me the time to sit back and think about doing what I love and that is what brought me back to the mill.” Says Pelley. “The owners of Gibbit Hill Grill and the restaurant were great but I just want to cook the food that I want to eat on a daily basis. I kind of hit all my goals in the restaurant world: I ran a restaurant, I owned my own restaurant. I’m more passionate now about the simple things, good bread, good coffee, pizza and ice cream. I want to be working with people and in a community that I like where I would want to spend my days off.” He says that because of his past experiences he has a grasp of the big picture and all aspects of running a restaurant which is different from the first time he worked at Mill No. 5. “It just fits on so many levels.”
His first goal for Coffee & Cotton and Dows Soda Fountain is to resume pre-covid operations– one step at a time. In-person dining is back at Coffee & Cotton, and the first art installation began in June. Then, he will open Dows, increase hours for both stores, and add new drinks, baked goods, and ice cream choices. Further down the road, he will bring back live music. “Part of the magic of Coffee & Cotton is when the rest of the mill is alive,” he says. So changes will happen in tandem with the rest of the shops on the 4th and 5th floors.
Brendan has been experimenting behind the scenes creating new food and drinks and he recently brushed up on the barista skills he learned as a teen by taking a refresher course. He says that coffee culture in America has matured so much in the last 10-20 years, much like the world of food. Consumers want to know if products are fresh, local, and seasonal and, now coffee lovers want to know if beans are fair trade, how they were dried and roasted, and, what are their tasting notes. “It’s just as interesting to me as what the wine world is to people who love wine. I’m a coffee nerd.” Pelley says.