The Lost Monarch Coffee Bar, located in the Stone Mill in downtown Middlebury, announced on Instagram in late January that it is closing permanently. Co-owners Matt and Alessandra Delia-Lôbo will continue to operate their other coffee shop, Royal Oak, located at 30 Seymour Street, with expanded hours.
Matt and Alessandra sold the Lost Monarch’s drip coffee brewer to the developers of the Stone Mill, so that the market can continue to offer drip and iced coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
According to Matt, the decision to close the Lost Monarch was a difficult one but ultimately came down to prioritizing family.
“It was mainly putting ourselves first,” Matt told The Campus. “I wanted to consolidate my focus on our original shop and spend more time with my daughter.”
At the Lost Monarch, Matt was typically the only employee behind the counter day after day, which made spending quality time with his daughter challenging. His wife (and co-owner) Alessandra is pursuing a career in midwifery, too, which makes the family even busier.
In addition to the familial reasons, Matt said, he wanted to redirect his focus to making Royal Oak the best coffee shop it can be
“We didn’t want to have two kind of good coffee shops,” he said. “We wanted to have one really good one.”
Matt and Alessandra moved to Middlebury in early 2019 to open Royal Oak Coffee. They opened a second shop that November — the Lost Monarch. The intention had always been for the two businesses to occupy different coffee niches, Matt said. Royal Oak is your classic coffee shop, serving Vivid Coffee Roasters with an array of drip coffee, espresso and pastries.
The Lost Monarch, in contrast, worked on a system of rotating roasters, with the intention of introducing people to both hyperlocal and less local products that they may not be familiar with, Matt said. The mix of roasters featured at the Lost Monarch included Iluminar Coffee, made in downtown Middlebury; Ridgefield, Conn.’s Quartertone Coffee; Troy, N.Y.’s Touchy Coffee; and Woodstock, Vt.’s Abracadabra Coffee Company.
Mary Cullinane and Stacey Rainey, co-developers of the Stone Mill, expressed their disappointment that Matt is leaving the market but also enthusiasm for the future of both Royal Oak and their market.
“While we will miss seeing Matt every day at the Stone Mill, we are excited about the opportunity this presents to him and his family,” Cullinane and Rainey wrote in an email to The Campus. “We are also very excited about what this means for the Stone Mill. We will continue to provide our visitors with great coffee and increase our ability to offer wine by the glass via events and tastings.”
Matt and Alessandra thanked Cullinane and Rainey in the Instagram announcement for their consistent support throughout the Lost Monarch’s roughly three years in business.
While the basic menu of drinks was similar to that of Royal Oak, the Lost Monarch would also often introduce some more unique drinks, such as a Ma’amoul latte or an espresso mocktail.
“We felt like it was an easier market to get weird in,” Matt said. If Royal Oak serves as a reliably community-friendly coffee joint, the Lost Monarch was the place for coffee connoisseurs with more adventurous taste-buds, he added.
Another difference between the two shops was the larger amount of seating at the Lost Monarch, both inside the Stone Mill and on the patio outside. This attracted groups of Middlebury students to the Lost Monarch on weekends, searching for a place to study. Matt said he is disappointed to give up the business for these students, along with the tourists who would often wander into the Stone Mill on weekends, though he hopes they will still find him across the creek at Royal Oak.
Moving forward, Matt said he plans to expand the hours of Royal Oak to match the later closing hours at the Lost Monarch. As of right now, the shop is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Come warmer weather, Matt said he will expand the hours further to stay open until 5 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on Sundays.
“We’d like to thank our loyal customers for all the good times, hype and support through it all,” Matt and Alessandra wrote in the closing announcement. “We hope you’ll continue to visit us at Royal Oak, where we’re going to incorporate the best parts of the Lost Monarch experience into our menu and atmosphere.”
Maggie Reynolds '24 (she/her) is the Editor in Chief.
Maggie previously served as the Senior Local Editor, a Local Section Editor, and a Staff Writer. She spent this past J-term interning for VTDigger, covering topics from affordable housing in Addison County to town government scandals. She also interned for Seven Days VT as an arts & culture reporter summer 2022 and as a news reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY summer 2021.
Maggie is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science and Spanish. She was a three-year member of the Women's Swimming and Diving team. Maggie enjoys running, hiking, and iced maple lattes.