Coffee Caboose a step back in time

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Owner Maryanne Foy has repurposed the 1913 Northern Southern Café into the Coffee Caboose, a coffee and old-timey sweets shop on MacNair street between Water and East Main streets. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)


Staff Writer
Maryanne Foy says she has “pretty-much retired,” though retirement doesn’t seem to have slowed her down much. Instead, Foy is up at 4 a.m. preparing to make coffee in all its forms —lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, espressos and more.
Foy is the owner of the Coffee Caboose, which can be found where Water Street dead-ends into MacNair Street in Washington’s historic district. The one-story building started its life as the Northern Southern Café in 1913, feeding passengers and crew traveling through town on the Northern Southern railroad. In the 1950s, it was Cutler’s Grocery and, in later years, served as a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous. Owned by Foy’s family for many decades, with a brand new coat of red paint, the unassuming building now pops from the landscape like the red cabooses that once rolled into the train depot next door.
“I’ve always wanted to do something with (the building),” said Foy. “This is my first entrepreneurial business and I’m loving it.”
People may stop in for coffee but what they get in addition to their cup of Joe is a glimpse of Washington history. Foy, with interior decorator and friend Jennifer Alligood, decorated the shop with enlarged images found in Foy’s mother’s effects, pictures of “Old Washington,” when downtown streets were cobblestone, ladies and gentlemen in hats drove Model T’s and people lined the streets to watch the parade of camels, elephants and carnies when the train brought the circus to town.
And when Foy petitioned the city of Washington’s Board of Adjustment to allow the commercial business to open in the historic district, she sailed through the process, her historic pictures proving the building began its life commercially.
The images aren’t the only items in the store with a touch of nostalgia: Foy carries old-timey candy like squirrel nuts, caramel creams and peanut butter logs. In addition to snow cones and ice cream bars, the Coffee Caboose is in the ideal location for those strolling along the waterfront boardwalk, according to Foy.
The coffee shop opened with little fanfare on July 9, a conscious decision by Foy.
“I’m just taking it slow, feeling my way right now,” she said. “I’m still working out the tweaks.”
For now, she’s content with serving coffee and sweets from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. each day and meeting the many folks stopping in for a look, a drink and bit of local history.