Although Lulu de Carrone plans to relinquish ownership of her East Rock coffeeshop at the end of February after 24 years in business, she jokes that, according to the contract, her successor, David Oricchio, is required to serve her a double macchiato every morning anyway.
De Carrone is in the process of selling Lulu’s European Coffeehouse, located on 49 Cottage St., to Oricchio, an employee she hired two years ago. While de Carrone did not cite specific plans to pursue after transferring ownership, she said her entrepreneurial spirit motivated her to take her career in a different direction.
The name of the establishment will change to East Rock Coffee, but the underlying values of the business — including a ban on tablets and laptops in the shop — will remain the same, according to Oricchio.
“[Oricchio] is a wonderful person,” de Carrone said. “He’s very smart, he’s very community-oriented, and he loves the reason behind why I banned laptops and iPads. What’s not to love?”
Instituted in 2008, the technology ban, de Carrone said, helps foster community and create ambiance within the coffee shop.
Patrons also cite the ban as a reason for the coffeehouse’s development as a space for relaxing, conversing with neighbors and gathering new ideas. East Rock resident and The New York Times contributing writer Jack Hitt, for example, said that over the years, the establishment has cultivated a number of surprising connections between strangers and neighbors.
Laura McMillan, an East Rock resident who has been a regular at Lulu’s for the past six years, said that she anticipated the change in ownership to yield new ideas from Oricchio, but that the coffeehouse would retain the same spirit.
“Lulu is a big fan of Dave, and it’s really a great relief for her to leave the shop in the hands of someone who can carry it forward,” McMillan said.
De Carrone said that the idea to transfer ownership to Oricchio arose when she mentioned looking for a successor and Oricchio suggested himself.
Oricchio, who has previous experience working in restaurants and coffeeshops, said he plans to offer lighter fare in contrast to the food served by various Italian establishments in the neighborhood. Additionally, he noted that in light of “serious food values” held by neighborhood residents, he intends to expand the menu by adding gluten-free and vegetarian options, as well as by sourcing produce locally and adjusting offerings seasonally.
Furthermore, the coffeehouse will seek to cater to residents’ needs by extending hours. Oricchio said that he will open the coffeehouse an hour earlier, at 6 a.m., for the sake of professionals like doctors and teachers, and also keep the coffeehouse open until 6 p.m. on most nights and 9 p.m. when hosting special evening events. East Rock Coffee will also host certain evening events, ranging from game nights to spoken word to movie screenings, he added.
McMillan said that over the years, she has even seen children grow up as their parents regularly bring them into the coffeehouse, such as the two children of East Rock resident Richard Mammana DIV ’12.
Mammana said that the coffeehouse draws a number of students from both the Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in addition to professors. He added that East Rock alders hold office hours in the establishment as well.
Correction, Feb. 2: A previous version of this article misspelled David Oricchio’s name. It is spelled Oricchio, not Orrichio. It also stated that Oricchio was hired by de Carrone two years ago. Oricchio was hired in June 2014.