Cafe D'Amato's Simple Philosophy Pays Off

By Jon Phillips

Atlantic News, May 23, 1995

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]

ONE STOP COFFEE SHOP -- Cafe D'Amato has what you need whether it's a pound of beans, a warm bagel or a double-tall latte. Pictured above, Michael Eaves, part owner of the cafe, makes a sale.
[Atlantic News Photo by Heather Gibbons]

HAMPTON -- Michael Eaves had a dream and he went with it.

Eaves, along with partner Dan McHugh, owns and operates the newly opened Cafe D'Amato in Hampton.

"I've always been into bagels and gourmet coffees," he said. "This was my dream and I went with it, and it's been incredible."

Cafe D'Amato opened its doors to the public just eight days ago, but business has been surging nonetheless and that is probably in no small part due to Eaves' simple, yet apparently effective, philosophy.

"My philosophy is, if it's good let's make it better," he said. On each of the first two days Cafe D'Amato was open, Eaves sold over 100 bagels, his special flavor was always sold out at the end of the day and during at least one point during the day every table in the elegant cafe was filled. That translates into the fact that he must not only be doing things well, but better, and if you don't believe him, feel free to check out his register receipts.

"This was all my idea," said the 24-year-old entrepreneur. "A lot of people think all you need is money, but that's not true. You also need some type of motivating factor. For me, it was important to do something positive for myself. This was my out, my niche."

McHugh, Eaves' partner, was the one person who helped make Eaves' out a reality.

"He is one of my biggest mentors," Eaves said of McHugh. "He has been through the mill, and he's best business person I've ever known."

The two spent over three months preparing and renovating the spot at Depot Square to make it as close to perfect as possible. But location is only part of the key, and Eaves goes to great lengths to ensure that the quality of his product is the best around. He serves only Green Mountain coffees, his bagels and cream cheeses come fresh daily from Abraham's in Amesbury, he has his own pastry chef, David Ferron, and his muffins come courtesy the Muffin Company from Maplevale Farms in East Kingston. Eaves also serves the finest in gourmet-style soups and sandwiches at deli prices. Perhaps even more impressive than all that, though, is his espresso bar — the only one of its kind in town. Eaves imports his espresso beans directly from Lavazza, Sicily.

"I've always wanted to incorporate the biggest fad in America, and that is gourmet coffee and bagels," he said. "This county is the richest county in the United States, and Hampton is one of the top ten wealthiest communities in the state. With those stats, and no gourmet coffee shop, it was incredible."

Eaves settled on Hampton primarily because no such shop existed in the town, and it was the perfect location between the saturated markets of Newburyport and Portsmouth.

"I think Hampton's ready for it," he said. "Hampton's always been shy to be different, but there's market for it. I did lots of research before I did this because I wanted to be sure my motif would last for the next ten years. No one can do what I'm doing. I'm the only person in town who can sell nine cappuccinos before 10:10 a.m."

Even though Cafe D'Amato has only been open just over a week, Eaves is already seeing some regulars. Among his best customers is employees from the court house, Foss Manufacturing and Odyssey House. And he doesn't fear the coming summer season where people seemingly head to the beach.

"I think that perception is a farce," Eaves said of people leaving the town in favor of the beach area. "The beach is primarily for the fried dough, coke and pizza crowd. This area swells with young professionals who prefer the better things in life. With alcohol on the social decline, I think this cafe is a great alternative."

For now, Eaves is focusing on satisfying his clientele with fresh warm bagels, hot coffee and daily specials. He points out that Cafe D'Amato also caters special events and can accommodate business meetings. On Saturdays, Cafe D'Amato will feature a jazz band. Eaves also expects to break ground on a new cafe in either North Hampton or Rye before the end of July.

"I believe in three basic concepts," he said. "You need the best products to offer people, something they can't get everywhere else. You've got to cater to the client. And location is essential."

Cafe D'Amato is open seven days a week starting at 6 a.m. and is located at 28 Depot Square in Hampton, 926-1711. So the next time you're on the way to work, or you just feel like a great cup of coffee and a bagel, stop in and Eaves will gladly accommodate because as he says, "This place is simply going to rock this town."

PROUD OWNER - Primary investor, and part owner, Dan McHugh.
[Photo by McGee]
SERVICE WITH A SMILE - Maureen Flanagan watches the register.
[Photo by McGee]