By Ava Lee ’21
Over the summer of 2020, The Cafe on the Green was closed by The Frederick Gunn School. The previous owners of Nine Main in New Preston quickly moved in to reopen and renovate The Po.
After the news emerged that The Po would be open again, students were delighted to hear about the new possibilities that would come with the new ownership. Especially in our current situation, the idea of an accessible restaurant serving meals, snacks, and drinks that we do not have access to this year was great news to all students.
Margaret Conagelo made the decision to open The Po backup with entirely new management. Margaret was previously the owner and chef at the Nine Main restaurant and the owner and baker for the Food for Thought organization in New Milford, CT. Margaret’s culinary and educational studies explain her love of cooking and people. Her positive energy and enthusiasm are already bringing great energy to the revamped Po.
Previously, The Po was managed through the same company as our dining hall. Now that The Po shifted ownership, the food choices shifted from diner-style, comfort food to healthy and trendy food. Some of their mainstream and trendier items on their menu include avocado toast topped with sprouts, acai bowls, poké bowls, and fried egg sandwiches. Margaret Conagelo claimed that she is going for “farm fresh meets teen foodie.” She is taking an intelligent approach to the restaurant considering the potential customers.
The Po kept some of FGS students’ favorite offerings, such as the Reitman Wrap, which continues to be the choice of many students and locals at the restaurant. However, students were disappointed that chicken tenders and fries were not on the menu.
Margaret explained that she wants The Po to offer healthier options as well as local comfort food. “At The Po, I want to find balance. Our local bounty snuggles up to big city food trends. I’d like to provide a place where those folks trying to eat healthy can meet their friend who is having a cheat day.”
The Po prides themselves on the many offerings on their menu for a variety of tastes. Margaret raves about the coffee the restaurant offers. “We pride ourselves on our coffee. I swear, that could be a whole article in itself! We sought out a fantastic local roaster whose standards meet and surpass fairtrade, rainforest certified and organic. He has a global mission rather than a business plan and travels the world befriending the coffee farmers from whom he buys his beans. Our baristas are well trained and passionate about the coffee we serve.” This is an alluring idea for any caffeine lovers!
The anticipation of the grand reopening became very clear on the first day they were open, Wednesday, September 21st. On Wednesday, students of all grades walked to The Po to try some of the new offerings. Some of the people waiting consisted of locals from the Litchfield County area, but the overwhelming majority were FGS students eager to return to The Po, or see what all of the hype is about.
Of course, with all the students and others, the line was out the door and there was a hefty amount of waiting for any cooked food. This day was a learning experience for both the cafe and the students. Fortunately, The Po offers a way to order online. This option was very convenient and attractive to those with a busy schedule. This option is especially helpful for limiting the number of people waiting inside The Po.
Ellen Grady and Josh Novick are both four-year seniors that visited The Po many times in the past. Josh describes himself as “a big fan of breakfast,” so he wishes that The Po served breakfast all day, instead of just the early morning hours. A lot of students share this thought, especially those with no morning free blocks.
Ellen Grady ‘21 could not wait for the reopening of The Po. “I love the new po. I’ve been at the Fredrick Gunn school for the past four years, and this new Po is so exciting and so different. My friends and I have loved getting to try new things, and we already have our favorite order.”
Opinions of The Po vary, but the new business is listening to its customers to improve in every way possible. Locals and students are ecstatic about the grand opening of The Po.