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Trumbull's UCBC Goes Beyond Bagels & Coffee With Community Outreach

Julie Stenz, owner of UCBC in Trumbull.
Julie Stenz, owner of UCBC in Trumbull. Photo Credit: Submitted

TRUMBULL, Conn. -- Julie Stenz is all about making life easier for local residents.

A busy mom who used to commute to a marketing job in NYC and later, Stamford, she said it was always a dream to work in the community she lives in and offer the kind of services she long wished for.

"My husband and I were always talking about how we really missed a place where we could have a coffee, read a newspaper and linger," she said. "We kept saying, 'One day, one day, one day.'"

Lucky for Trumbull residents, that day has come. Stenz said it was a matter of the "stars aligning" but since opening Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe , otherwise known as UCBC, in April, she has been amazed by the outpouring of support.

Through a mutual friend she connected with Charly Sahlia, who owns UCBC in Darien and had thought of opening in Trumbull. But he knew he couldn't effectively manage it with the distance.

"It was the perfect storm," said Stenz, giving her the opening she needed. "Trumbull was hungry for a place like this."

Already, she said, the store caters to a host of regulars who no longer have to give their orders to the staff. And, she's doing all she can to bring in the community, both with offering event space for parties as well as room for local artists to showcase their work. Former staff member — and Trumbull resident — Sydney Sheehan, an aspiring photographer currently studying at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., was the first to have her work hanging on UCBC's walls.

"It's always been part of our ambition to involve the community," said Stenz, who is on the lookout for area artists.

Live music is also on her agenda as is offering a delivery service to area businesses and schools; UCBC offers a range of solutions when after-school programs run long and Mom and Dad need dinner for their kids.

And, she's looking to tweak the menu for fall and winter. Right now, bagels, smoothies and custom-made salads are among the biggest sellers, and most likely will stay that way, though Stenz likes mixing things up. A look at the menu reflects her love for Trumbull's green spaces and parks with sandwiches named after area landmarks (think Kaatz Pond Lake, Spring Hill, Old Mine and Island Brook).

Baked goods are another biggie. "A lot of people walk in the door expecting a cake bakery," she said. "Everyday we offer something new, whether it's a chocolate chip cookie, a homemade lemon bar or a decadent peanut butter and chocolate layered bar. "I like to think we have pleasant surprises for everyone."

UCBC is at 4244 Madison Ave., (203) 880-5502, .

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