New coffee shop brewing in downtown Scranton


New coffee shop brewing in downtown Scranton as seen in the Scranton Times Tribune on September 10, 2020 by Jim Lockwood

Downtown Scranton will soon get a new coffee shop and boutique in the Samter’s building at Lackawanna and Penn avenues.

Tom and Patrice Bonin of Dunmore are converting 3,000 square feet of Samter’s first-floor retail space into a spot for two businesses, Commonwealth Coffeehouse and Patrice B. & Co., a women’s clothing, gifts and accessories shop.

The mixed-use, open-air floor plan will have a coffee shop/deli on one side and boutique on the other side, and they hope each will complement the other. The Bonins hope the venture appeals to the growing number of people living and working downtown, as well as visitors.

“We’re going to be a family-run and managed business and we’re going to support the residents and tourists of downtown Scranton,” Tom Bonin said.

Doing most of the interior renovations himself, Tom began the project in early March, just as COVID-19 took hold. The pandemic shutdown caused a few months of delays. He hopes to open in around 30-45 days.

The couple also owns the Country Day Nursery School in Dunmore.

Patrice has operated her boutique online from home for several years and now will give it a brick-and-mortar component inside Samter’s in downtown Scranton.

Tom chose the word commonwealth for the coffeehouse name to convey a sense of “permanence.”

While the pandemic’s impact on the overall economy remains in flux, the downtown in recent years had been on an upswing. New apartment dwellers filled redeveloped buildings and a vibrant arts and culture community brimmed with activity. Shops, galleries and service businesses moved into storefronts and renovated spaces. The Marketplace at Steamtown’s transformation added “eds and meds” tenants.

The Bonins think the downtown retail landscape is underserved and has room to grow emerging from the pandemic. Demand for living downtown and teleworking may increase downtown, as it remains a hub of employment and services.

Samter’s owner Charles Jefferson has been at the forefront of converting downtown buildings into apartments. In recent years, he converted the century-old, five-story former Samter’s department store into Samter’s Lofts, with 24 apartments on upper floors and retail and art gallery spaces on the first floor.

Artists for Art Gallery recently moved into the other part of Samter’s first floor. With the coffeehouse on the way, “that fills it,” Jefferson said of Samter’s ground floor.

“Tom took the whole 3,000 square feet” of remaining space, Jefferson said. “He’s doing beautiful work. It’s an asset to the building and the neighborhood. There’s no question, his level of commitment.”

Noting that several locally owned mom and pop retailers have enjoyed longevity downtown, Jefferson has high hopes for the Bonins.

“People who come into the downtown and give it a hell of a shot, there’s a high rate of success in what they do,” Jefferson said.