Meet Linda and Johnny Lotti…
Linda Stevens and Johnny Lotti first met at a high school reunion in Bridgewater, MA when she refused to dance with him to the Guns n’ Roses classic, Sweet Child O’ Mine. Back at Silver Lake High, twenty years earlier, their paths hadn’t crossed; she’d been a math nerd and he, a gifted ice hockey player. Half-way through the song, Johnny prevailed, Linda danced with him, and they haven’t been apart since.
Linda, an avid distance cyclist, had already explored much of the Northeast Kingdom; Johnny immediately took to the hair-raising downhills of Burke Mountain’s Sidewinder and Kitchell. They bought a small weekend home in East Burke in 2012 and dreamed of moving up full time. “I would be so sad on Sunday,” says Linda. “My heart was really here.”
Three years later, they quit their stable lives in Foxboro and moved full time to East Burke with their dogs, Monty and Athena. “We’d always had the idea for the coffee shop in mind,” says Linda. “And we’d admired the old Yacht Club building. ‘That would be perfect,’ we used to say. But it wasn’t for sale.” And then it was. They jumped.
For Johnny, who has a long history working with quality produce, Cafe Lotti is about coffee and great customer service. A self-confessed coffee addict, Johnny spent years researching the best beans and brewing process. At a coffee festival in Chicago in 2013, he had an epiphany – “a coffee awakening.” He took a sip of Josuma Coffee’s Malabar blend and stopped in his tracks. The coffee was delicate, yet robust; the flavor coyly revealing itself; the scent, texture: sublime. “I’ve drunk a lot of coffee, truck stop, filtered, Italian, coffee on a lobster boat in a storm, you name it. But this was the best coffee I had ever had. And I mean ever.”
Linda, a CPA currently working at Northeast Kingdom Community Action, Inc. in Newport, VT, had fallen in love with the building. “As a church, the space was originally designed to create a sense of community and belonging,” she says. “And we want this to be a community place, to have book clubs and poetry readings, art exhibits, events, as well as just a great friendly place to hang out. We want to be part of the reason people come here to live and play.”