She lost her job during the pandemic. Then she followed her dream and opened a coffee shop

NORTH HAVEN — Way up north on the wood-lined Hartford Turnpike, in a small North Haven plaza that feels a world away from New Haven, sits 23-year-old Montana Telman’s dream — the coffee shop she opened this spring.

Opening the business was a longtime aspiration for Telman, who decided to pursue it after temporarily losing her job as a personal trainer during the coronavirus pandemic, she said.

Dubbed Crossroads because it sits at the State Street intersection, the cafe boasts a chic interior. Vintage-looking mirrors lined with fake ivy decorate the wall to the right of the entrance, and plants hang from the ceiling.

At the barista’s counter, a blackboard-style menu lists drink options — cappuccinos, lattes and the like. Guests can choose from a variety of syrups, all made in-house, that use ingredients from Telman’s garden, according to head barista Holden Morgan, who also happens to be dating the business owner.

One Thursday last month, Morgan, radiating pride for Telman, said the syrups, which feature unusual flavors such as brown sugar and rosemary vanilla, were the best he ever had.

“(I have) an immense amount of respect for Montana,” he said.

Also at the ordering counter are lists of various food specials, and a display case that shows off house-made pastries.

An unusual spot for a hip cafe, Telman, who lives nearby, said she chose the location because the neighborhood needed somewhere for people to gather.

“Specialty coffee has such a place in my heart, and I knew my community needed something to wake it up,” she said.

A Hamden native, Telman said her family moved to North Haven while she was away at college.

Her first and favorite job during college, where she took entrepreneurship classes, was working as a barista, she said.

“I was learning to build businesses from the ground up,” Telman said. “When my entrepreneurship spirit was started ... needing to have my own coffee shop was just kind of a no-brainer.”

When COVID-19 hit, Telman lost her job as a personal trainer, she said, adding that she eventually got it back part time.

But the damage was done. Telman saw an opportunity, and by September she was starting to work toward opening Crossroads.

She spent the following months coming up with the design for the cafe and perfecting recipes.

“For me it was really important that all the things that I make in the shop are my own recipes, because I think it brings some uniqueness,” Telman said.

How the garden grows

She also started figuring out how her business could as eco-friendly as possible, planting a garden on the side of the building and hiring an environmental consultant. She uses the garden for ingredients, gets coffee beans in reusable bins, bakes with reusable dishes and uses compostable plates, napkins and cupholders, she said.

The team behind the coffee shop includes two people Telman met through the Connecticut coffee scene: Morgan, the head barista, and manager Taylor Adams.

A visit to the coffee shop on a recent afternoon when all three were there at the same time made it obvious Crossroads is more than a job to them.

“There’s love put into this place,” Adams said.

Morgan said the three complement each other well, each bringing new ideas to the table.

“It doesn’t really feel like work here,” Adams said.

“It feels like hanging out,” said Morgan, finishing Adams’ thought.

Crossroads opened in April, Telman said, and had an official ribbon-cutting in May.

In attendance for that were Telman’s mother — who came up with the name for the coffee shop — as well as First Selectman Michael Freda.

Freda said he was “delighted” Montana opened her coffee shop in town.

“Small businesses tend to be the fabric of any community,” he said.

And the community seems to be on board as, according to Telman, business has been booming.

For information, visit www.crossroadscoffeect.com.

meghan.friedmann@hearstmediact.com