Since opening in 2014, the allure of Coffee and Cotton has been that it is a perfectly tucked away coffee shop that caters to quiet conversations during the week and boisterous families during the weekends. Fast forward through several management changes and a global pandemic, and CoCo, as it’s lovingly referred to, is seeing a resurgence, and finding its own place within Lowell’s downtown core as an evening event space.
Those that enter through the vintage, red painted glass doors are looking for more than a quick cup of coffee as they rush to work. They are looking for quick bites, great coffee, and even greater connections. The foot traffic begins mid-morning with customers walking the short distance from the Lowell Community Charter Public School, the Lowell District Court House and neighboring office buildings and condos. But the resurgence of a community gathering place at CoCo comes later in the evenings as comedians, singer/songwriters and poets entertain the intimate yet growing audience.
Joel Mongeon, Mill No. 5’s Events Manager who organizes and oversees the evening events says, “I meet a lot of people at the open mics who are very attentive listeners and really appreciate having a space where they can go to be engaged with their peers and where they know they’ll be respected onstage.” He also notes that being in the music industry he is aware of the need for hosting events such as these in sober spaces so folks don’t feel pressured to socialize in ways that they’re not comfortable with, as well as creating environments where people are willing to listen and not just turn live entertainment into background noise.
It’s been a slow process to get back to a normal flow of customers post-pandemic, but that is not unlike other small businesses in the city. There have been a lot of changes to the menu, but Mara Chea, General Manager of Coffee and Cotton says, “If we don’t keep up with the changes, we won’t be able to keep up with the game.” Restructuring the team, downsizing the menu and staying open later to host community events, means that the doors can stay open and those who work tirelessly to provide a familiar feel to those regulars who come in every day, can remain employed.
There will always be coffee shops and different businesses that pop up around Lowell that provide a creative outlet for artists and locals to experience the vibrant culture of the city, but Mara asks, “How are we going to give the customers that come in today a better experience than another shop or even a better experience than what they experienced at this location yesterday.”
For Coffee and Cotton open hours and events, please visit our website.