WESTPORT, Conn. — Rachel Haughey, owner of NEAT on Wilton Road in Westport, is aware of all the possible meanings of her establishment’s name — from tidy to cool to ordering a drink without ice or a mixer.
NEAT, of course, could also refer to changes that her combination coffee shop, bar and restaurant recently underwent after a renovation.
While the doors are open this week — a soft opening of sorts — NEAT will officially celebrate its reopening with a public reception this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Once an eatery with a darker interior, the inside has taken on a lighter decor with the walls and bar painted a fresh white.
Haughey has also overhauled the menu. She brought in new barstools, and some new tables are on the way.
But she said it was a challenge figuring out a design that would appeal to customers visiting at different times for different kinds of drinks.
“We are a place that operates during the day and the evening,” Haughey told The Daily Voice. “It’s a tricky thing to design for a concept like that.”
So she worked with designer to create a space that would bridge the gap between those environments.
“You’d be just as likely to have a morning coffee [here] as a cocktail pre- or post-dinner,” she said.
Originally a fire house, NEAT’s brick building bears the name “Vigilant Fire Co. No. 3.”
According to Haughey, it has also housed a pizza place and a kitchen showroom.
Unlike NEAT’s Darien location, the Westport location also serves up liquor. A long bar — complete with available power outlets — runs down the wall opposite the front entrance.
The bar setup, she said, has also allowed them to be creative with their drinks. Bartenders try to sometimes concoct non-alcoholic drinks in a way one would see a cocktail prepared, according to Haughey.
Haughey says she soon plans to roast coffee in Connecticut — currently she roasts it in Brooklyn — and that she plans to expand sometime in the future.
“We are looking to further expand,” she said, hinting that more NEAT things are in store.
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