Jim Orlet dreamed of a bigger place for the Abbey, a west Belleville cafe.
Now, he has one.
"Jim for years had looked at this spot in the trees," said Julie Orlet, his sister. The new Abbey Espresso Bar and Cafe is near the corner of West Main Street and Frank Scott Parkway, situated among tall pines.
On a recent weekday, Jim, 42, was a man in motion. He moved furniture, checked behind the coffee and gelato bar and nodded hellos to customers.
"There's still a lot to do," he said as he lifted a small display case and moved it elsewhere in the new space.
For a dozen years, The Abbey was in the Arcades Shopping Center just a few blocks west on West Main Street. The prime draw at first was the Vineyard gift shop, but then the Abbey was added, offering coffee, tea and a small menu of breakfast pastries, sandwiches and soup.
The new 2,400-square-foot store, which opened Jan. 2, is double the size of the previous location. The patio has a view of the lake behind the building.
A local historian brought them photos from 1896 of the hotel that once stood on the spot. The property then was at the entrance to Lake Priester's Park. St. Henry's Preparatory Seminary later stood on the site.
The new location has drawn a lot of attention.
"What's interesting is that we're getting all the regulars we had at the other place, but now we're also seeing a lot of new people," said Julie, 56.
Inside, the open space has tall ceilings, large windows and walls in shades of pumpkin, apple green and golden wheat. To the left, a comfortable sofa and chairs are arranged around a big brick fireplace. To the right is a small stage for live music.
The espresso and gelato bar run across the back wall. Espresso is $1.50 a shot. A Caffe Mocha is $3.75.
Rather have something cold? Iced coffee beverages also are available. Or, try the gelato, which comes in flavors such as coffee, pistachio and chocolate with chunks of Hershey bar in it ($3.95/$3.25 slice).
Homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches are served daily along with a plethora of pastries and bread.
The expanded breakfast and lunch menu now include hot items. An Egg-Bake Panini ($4.95) is a souffle of eggs, sauteed spinach, Cheddar cheese and green onion, topped with smoked gouda and sun-dried tomato pesto on sourdough bread.
Six hot sandwiches ($7.50), including Reuben, Caprese Panini and Tuna Melt, are part of the lunch menu.
On a recent weekday, Alisa Menard, of Fairview Heights, sipped a cappucino and dined on a Roasted Eggplant Panini ($7.50; served with roasted red peppers, Gouda cheese, spinach, red onions, pesto mayo on sourdough).
"This is my first time here," she said. "It's really nice, kind of elegant but comfortable. I had business next door at the bank and I saw the new building.
"I will definitely be back. It's really fast to get here from Frank Scott (Parkway) and I'd rather give my business to a local place" than a chain.
With a liquor license, the Abbey will serve beer, wine and have a full bar by Feb. 1. Evening hours eventually will be added, along with a menu of small appetizer plates and platters to share.
Jim, the youngest of 10, calls his sister Julie the events coordinator. Sister Renee Comerford whips up eight or nine flavors of gelato each day. Another sister, Terri Vargo, does barista and cooking duties.
Shelves and display areas show off popular Vineyard gift items, such as the Treska jewelry line, recycled glass, books and Fair Trade merchandise.
There is a drive-up window, free WiFi and a lending library.
A private meeting room, which holds about 25, can be reserved for parties and groups.
"We're glad to be able to offer that now," said Jim.
Breakfast menu (served 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.)
Egg-Bake Panini ($4.95)
Steel-cut oatmeal with fruit and brown sugar, $4.25.
Bagel with cream cheese, $1.75.
Lunch menu (Served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
4 big salads ($7.50), including Priester's Park Salad: Bed of spinach, red onion, bacon, candied pecans and bleu cheese with poppyseed dressing.
6 hot sandwiches ($7.50), including Reuben, Caprese Panini and Tuna Melt. All come with a spring mix salad or chips.
6 cold sandwiches ($7.50), including the Abbey Chicken Salad. Served on eight-grain, rye or croissant.
Soup of the Day (two choices), $3.95/$3.25. A recent day's offering was tomato Florentine or broccoli with cheese.
Best 2 Outta 3 ($7.95): Choose half salad, half sandwich or soup.
What: Coffee and espresso bar, breakfast, lunch, gelato. Driveup window. By Feb. 1, wine, bear and a full bar.
Where: 5801 W. Main St., Belleville.
Hours: Temporary hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.
Added features: Gifts, private meeting room, patio. Extra parking behind building. Live music 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays.