There’s one locally owned coffee shop that has been building an “Empire” in and around Newport, and it looks like they’re growing in Newport again.

Empire Tea & Coffee signed a lease on Tuesday to open in the Seamen’s Church Institute in the space formerly occupied by the Aloha Cafe.

“We are very excited to be a partner with the Seamen’s Church Institute and to introduce this amazing building and its educational resources to our customers,” CJ Barone, Owner of Empire Tea & Coffee, told What’sUpNewp on Tuesday evening.

Empire Tea & Coffee first opened its doors in Newport in 2004. With the newest addition at 18 Market Square (Seamen’s Church Institute), they will now operate five locations in Rhode Island – 112 William Street (Newport), 22 Broadway (Newport), 58 Aquidneck Avenue (Middletown), and 251 Thames Street (Bristol).

{This story was originally published on February 6th, it was updated with the following on February 9th}

“Seamen’s Church Institute is pleased to welcome Empire Coffee in March 2018.  Empire will occupy the former Aloha Cafe space and establish a full-service cafe in line with their other local properties.  We anticipate this partnership will bring in more of the local and visiting community into our historic site to learn about the important work we do,” a statement from Seamen’s Church Institue on February 9th stated. ” Visitors will have the opportunity enjoy food and beverage and relax in our many cozy spaces including the Henry H. Anderson, Jr. Library for Mariners, the Mariners Lounge, and the Cafe itself.  We are excited to have Empire Coffee as a partner while we continue our mission ‘to protect, preserve and enhance the maritime culture of Newport and Narragansett Bay by providing education, hospitality and a safe haven for those who work, live and play on or by the sea.’ Opening date and hours of operation TBD.”

An expected opening date for this new Empire Tea & Coffee location is still to be determined.

Aloha Cafe at Seamen’s Church Institute announced on January 5th, 2018 that they had permanently closed.“The Aloha Cafe has closed after many great years serving local Newporters and visitors alike. Stay tuned for an exciting new chapter for Seamen’s we promise a great change ahead!,” the Cafe posted on Facebook.

Before closing, The Aloha Cafe had most recently been open Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30 am-2:30 pm for “delicious, affordable, family-friendly breakfast and lunch”, sail lunches and catering. Customers were able to enjoy their meals in the mariner’s lounge, outdoor garden or by take-out.

According to its website, The Aloha Cafe supported Seamen’s Church Institute’s mission of serving the maritime community and their neighbors in need. The Cafe also participated n the Community Meal Program on the third Wednesday of each month, providing a hearty, free dinner to the community.

What’sUpNewp first learned on January 3rd that the Cafe was closed and thatt after renovations that the space wouldill reopen as a coffee shop, cafe to serve the public.

via Aloha Cafe Facebook Page

Seamen’s Church Institute was formed in 1919 to “provide work for the moral and mental improvement exclusively of all of those who are employed upon or in connection with the sea in any part of the world or upon the inland waters of the United States, including men in the service of the United States…”.

In 1930, the daughters of RI Senator and Mrs. George Wetmore funded the construction of a prominent brick, Georgian-styled building in honor of their parents. This building was designed by Beaux-Arts trained architect Frederick Rhinelander King. In 1984, Seamen’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This landmark building is the only original structure remaining on Market Square and is one of the few buildings on the Newport waterfront still being used for its original purposes.

Almost 100 years after its founding, the organization continues to offer services and support to those working on the waterfront, to visiting and local mariners, and to those in need in the community.

Ever adapting to changes in a developing waterfront, SCI’s mission today is “to protect, preserve and enhance the maritime culture of Newport and Narragansett Bay by providing education, hospitality and a safe haven for those who work, live and play on or by the sea.”

The building is open 365 days a year from 7 am to 4 pm and serves approximately 50,000 people annually.

This story was originally published on Feb 6, 2018 @ 20:46, it was updated on Feb 9, 2018 at 08:35

Ryan Belmore

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  He has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the boards of Fort Adams Trust, Lucy's Hearth, and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

In 2020, he was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, he spent 39 years living in Rhode Island before recently moving to Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two rescue dogs. He still considers Rhode Island home, and visits at least once a month.