Chris Grabon’s dream


Gunter Kleist

Now it’s official

Chris Grabon is living his dream.

Nearly two years after becoming the new owner of a long-established main street coffee shop in Johnson, he has renamed and redecorated the former Lovin’ Cup, now known as The Dream Café.

“The idea of me owning the café was always a dream. It never seemed plausible or real,” said Grabon. “With the cafe in mind, I wrote a poem called ‘Dream Café,’ which is hung up across from the deli.”

Great Big Graphics, a design company, made a new sign, which depicts gold and purple tones, stars, and moons.

“I have made some subtle changes since owning the café,” said Grabon. “I kept the menu the same way because I didn’t want to scare people away and change what they loved, but I like to provide a variety of specials.”

The Dream Café offers over 10 sandwiches including paninis, but one is particularly dear to him. “The Cubano is my all-time favorite sandwich, which is a special we run,” Grabon said. “It has in-house roast pork, Cuban style. It also has ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.”

Grabon, a self taught baker, learned simple recipes from his mother when he was young. “After living with my mother, I went to live with my father and we were forbidden to use the stove top or microwave, so it was like un-learning everything I had known,” Grabon said. “The first thing that really got me culinary involved was the process of making chicken noodle soup.”

The café also offers vegan and gluten-free items such as cookies and brownies. While Grabon is new to home-style vegan cooking, he is gaining experience and said he hopes to dabble with a variety of new desserts. “There will always be gluten-free food of some sort, but [for me] veganism is a new and evolving art,” he said.

The inside of The Dream Café, now adorned with pink and purple walls, features rotating exhibits of art and photography. Local artists can hang up their work, as well as leave business or show cards. Installed now are paintings by Grabon’s mother, Marie LaPré Grabon, who has done many art residencies, including one at the Vermont Studio Center. She has also taught at JSC.

The next art installation is called Living by Jessie Warren, a local Johnson State College graduate. Her show featuring documentary photographs will run Feb. 17- March 17.

“I seldom have to go out looking for people to hang their works,” said Grabon. “There is a plethora of local artists. My mother, who is very connected in the art world and has been an artist in this town for many years, can toss names out to me.”

Grabon noted that he employs seven baristas, and his “Dream Team” is essential to the café’s success. “I really have such great employees,” he said.

The Dream Café is open Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m-5:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 9:00 a.m-4:00 p.m.