PORTSMOUTH — A Market Square mainstay is shutting down this week after decades as one of the city’s most popular coffee shops.
“The number of people who have come through our doors the last two days has just been really humbling,” Breaking New Grounds owner Matt Govoni said Sunday afternoon. “It’s nice to go out with a bang like this. It had done well for 25 years.”
The 14 Market Square location will be transformed in the spring to a Tuscan Market location.
Govoni said he could not pass up the offer he got for the building, located in the heart of Portsmouth’s evolving downtown. He said he reached the decision a few months ago to sell to Tuscan Brands founder and CEO Joe Faro.
Faro said in a Facebook post he plans to move his Tuscan Market from its current location at 581 Lafayette Road in Portsmouth about a mile-and-a-half to the new property downtown.
“I hope everybody gives it a chance,” Govoni said. “Working with Joe has been really good. He’s just a fantastic guy. He really cares about this city and I think he’s going to do a really nice job here.”
Faro, who is also behind the Tuscan Village development across the street from the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, said the former market location in Portsmouth will become a banquet center.
“As a graduate of UNH with a deep love for New Hampshire’s Seacoast area, I take great pride in having Tuscan Brands be part of the Portsmouth community and we’re so excited to expand and reinforce our commitment to this incredible town,” Faro said in his Facebook post announcing the move.
The news caught many by surprise; hundreds of fans posted messages saying they were sad to see Breaking New Grounds go.
“Our family has MANY wonderful memories of our times at BNG over the years,” one woman wrote. “Almost every trip to Portsmouth involved a stop at BNG for a cappuccino, sitting outside and taking in the sights in Market Square, nothing quite like it! Thank you for the memories.”
By Sunday afternoon, Govoni’s original Facebook post on the Breaking New Grounds page had 545 comments. Govoni added a second post Sunday to express his gratitude.
“I appreciate the kind words and have enjoyed seeing all of you come in to give us best wishes. Please keep the positive feedback coming,” Govoni wrote. “We love hearing your stories as it has been so heartwarming to us.”
Govoni said the Breaking New Grounds in Durham, which his brother runs, will remain open. The Portsmouth store will close for good on Thursday.
With a son attending the University of New Hampshire and a daughter in her senior year of high school, Govoni said he is looking forward to “decompressing a little” and enjoying more time with his family. He said he is also looking forward to seeing how the Tuscan Market helps continue to reshape downtown.
“I think all the changes have been pretty good,” Govoni said. “Portsmouth is a great city and I think it will continue to be a great city. I have nothing but positive things to say about Portsmouth.”
Faro said in his statement that he hopes the “revamped open-air Tuscan Market in Portsmouth’s historic downtown district will serve as a destination for the local and tourist communities.” The location’s offerings will include “house-made salumi, artisan breads, pastry, gelato and premier imported Italian coffee in a cafe and marketplace setting.”