Andy Servetas is a person worth knowing, but you’ll have to visit his coffee shop in downtown Fairfield to see his visage.
The 37-year-old town resident, although receptive to an interview, declined to pose for a photograph. “I don’t like to have my picture taken,” he says. “Call it the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.”
As Las Vetas’ sole owner-operator for eight years, Servetas estimates that he’s “certainly involved 70 to 80 hours a week.
“If you’re not involved, it’s just too hard to make it,” he says. “I have to be at the counter.”
The coffee shop’s location on Unquowa Road, just several steps removed from the and the Post Road, is ideal for many segments of the community, throughout the day and well into the evening.
“We get the commuters in the morning. The stay-at-home moms come in after yoga. When gets out, many of those kids come down,” explains Servetas. “People who work in town come in throughout the day.
“The best over-all customer is the kid who grew up in Fairfield,” he continues. “When they’re home from college in the summer or during break, they’re here. It’s like a bar without the alcohol.”
Servetas draws the majority of his counter staff from this clientele or from the high school ranks. He has a nucleus of 10 to 12 people, virtually all of them teen girls or women in their early twenties. On this January morning, Audrey DeBarros, a senior at Boston University, and Marisa Barone, a sophomore at tiny Reed College ( studied there for a while) in Portland, Ore., were personing the counter.
The hours are long: 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. But that’s to be expected and Servetas isn’t complaining.
“It’s a combination of all the things I’m passionate about,” he says. “It’s like having people over to your house. It’s really just an extension of my house.”
Servetas, who grew up in Trumbull, majored in journalism -- with an emphasis on public relations and marketing -- at the University of Georgia. He spent a couple of years in national advertising at the Connecticut Post, worked for the Ryan Marketing Partnership in Westport and for another marketing company.
Then he made the decision to open Las Vetas on the Post Road, where it remained for six years until “we grew out of the space.” The name was derived from the owner’s surname.
The new location, on the site of the former Open Book Shop, is twice as large. A bookcase bearing the name “Open Book Shop,” a tribute to the former long-time occupant, may be found against one wall. A well-worn grand piano occupies a nearby corner.
Complementing the shop’s hot and iced coffee, a staple for the majority of the clientele, is a variety of foods -- baked goods, pre-cooked chicken cutlets, soup, tuna, grilled cheese. Tea and cold drinks are available as well.
Regulars describe the place as “funky, hipster, a bit eclectic.” Says one patron: “It does not feel like a cookie-cutter franchise like those other coffee shops.”
“Leave your troubles at home,” says Servetas, “and come on down.”