Tom Buontempo has lived a 195-day nightmare.
Back on July 6, Buontempo lost his financial life when a fire ravaged The Bagel Factory at 32 Toll Gate Road in Warwick, ultimately gutting the 1,700-square-foot building.
Buontempo was distraught.
He developed a reputation for having the best bagels around, as well as specialty soups, salads, small suppers, sweets of all kinds and holiday pies.
“And all of a sudden, 18 years goes up in smoke,” said Buontempo, a one-time jewelry company owner who poured his heart and soul into The Bagel Factory for 18 years. “But damn it,” he said back in July with tears streaming down his face, “I’m going to rebuild!”
Replacing The Bagel Factory at the intersection of Routes 117 and 115 in Apponaug is Buontempo’s new business, now known as Café Tempo Coffee House.
The Bagel Factory has been transformed into a casual yet upscale coffee house, complete with granite counter tops featuring New York bar-style seating, six dining room tables with chairs and four high-top tables in a new bar area.
Café Tempo Coffee House, which officially opened on Jan. 17, also features pendant and track lighting, new menu boards, USB ports for charging cell phones and plugging in computers, WiFi, two digital televisions, new sliding windows and crown molding.
The interior is done in warm café color tones and there’s seating for 40 people at the tables as well as a corner featuring leather chairs and a couch.
Café Tempo Coffee House, which is handicapped accessible, also has a silver cappuccino machine surrounded by the granite top bar, ideal for coffee and computers. Buontempo’s business also makes espresso and a number of coffee blends.
Café Tempo Coffee House is Buontempo’s new concept, yet it’s a re-creation of a once thriving business that still features The Bagel Factory’s signature item – those original and homemade bagels. He still offers breakfast and lunch sandwiches, frozen coffee drinks, smoothies, chai, protein shakes, baked goods, desserts, soups, and much more.
Instead of closing at 5 p.m., Café Tempo Coffee House is open until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“We’re still open seven days a week,” Buontempo said Tuesday night. “We open at 6 in the morning Monday through Saturday and don’t close until 10 at night. Sunday, we go from 7 to 5.”
Buontempo, who did extensive research while developing his new concept, added, “Our sole mission is to provide our guests with the same quality food we served at The Bagel Factory and at reasonable prices but in a better atmosphere and improved service.”
Although Café Tempo Coffee House has only been open less than two weeks, Buontempo has received rave reviews from countless customers about the new look and concept.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Buontempo began, his voice cracking with emotion as he removed his eyeglasses. “People have been coming in and actually thanking us for re-opening. They’ve been telling us how beautiful this place is now and how they missed coming here for our bagels and food. They’ve welcomed us [back] with open arms.”
Back in the early morning of Jan. 17, when Café Tempo Coffee House officially opened its doors, a man and woman came in and immediately exclaimed, “Welcome back!”
And it’s those types of words, which Buontempo keeps hearing day-in and day-out, that has helped ease the pain he sometimes still feels from that nagging nightmare of July 6, 2013 when fire ripped apart his business.
However, it didn’t destroy Tom Buontempo’s business heart, which is again pumping with new life at Café Tempo Coffee House.