By Martha Ewing ’26
The Po Cafe recently celebrated its two-year anniversary. It is an extremely popular place for Gunn students to hang out, and every student has their favorite thing on the menu. But who is the owner of this cafe, and what does she recommend that you should order next?
Maggie Colangelo opened the Po on October 15, 2020, after her previous cafe, The Smithy, was sold by the owner. “We were licking our wounds one day, and the phone rang and it was Peter Becker and he gave me this amazing opportunity,” said Maggie during an interview with Martha Ewing ‘26. “I really don’t think I could have anticipated how cool it would be.” When asked who inspired her to start a cafe, Maggie replied: “My grandmother was my inspiration for going into culinary.” Maggie went to culinary school and “hated it and never wanted to do it again. I traveled around and did restaurant consulting. I did work around the world, but thought it wasn’t for me. I went back to school to be a teacher, and the week that I graduated with my teaching degree, I had an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and I bought my first restaurant.” This restaurant was in New Milford, and Maggie hopes to open another restaurant there in the future. New Milford holds a special place in her heart as she grew up there. “I teach cooking through the New Milford Youth Agency,” said Maggie. “I teach K through 8 and then once kids are in high school, they are able to come back and be employed.”
Maggie loves working in Washington, however. “It’s off the beaten path. People in the Depot have to get back in their car and drive up. They want to eat here. It feels nice for people to come here as a choice, not just because it’s the nearest cafe”. The Po has received positive feedback from local and regional newspapers. Its many accolades include Favorite New Restaurant – Litchfield Magazine and Connecticut Magazine and one of the Best 5 Spots for Coffee With a View in New England – Yankee Magazine.
When asked what her favorite thing on the menu was, Maggie said the Spinach Toastie was something to try. “We put a lot of thought into it. The inspiration was
Edited by: Maisie Samuels
wanting something that was toasty and cheesy, but I love spinach for breakfast. There are all sorts of constraints when holding a cheese sauce in pastry so we created a cheddar cheese spread with spinach.”
Maggie gave some entrepreneurial advice to students wanting to start their own businesses. “Money can be made in so many different sectors. Personally, I feel like it is much easier if you are passionate about what you do. It feels less like work – you’re more driven and waking up every morning to go and do it is actually enjoyable.” The environment is also a concern when starting a business. “Find a way to always balance however it is you are making money, whatever your business is, to offset the impact it might have on the environment.” The Po uses mainly sugarcane utensils. “We would make an enormous impact on the environment by using completely plastic, disposable utensils.”
Maggie Colangelo is an inspiration for entrepreneurial minds, and has an amazing story. Definitely stop by the Po sometime, and try something new. You never know, you may find your new favorite thing on the menu.