New name and owner, but same Olde Towne eatery

Vicente Hernandez performs an impressively athletic antic on a street sign in front of his Downtown Salisbury eatery.

Olde Towne Cafe & Coffeehouse customers have been greeted by Vicente Hernandez’s broad grin since July 2018. He knows many of them by name, creating a sense of welcome among regular customers at the eatery on North Division Street in Downtown Salisbury.

Hernandez, who found his way to Salisbury from the Washington, D.C., area, arrived in 2009 to attend classes at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. A Business major, he graduated in 2013.

“My first coffee shop job locally was at Getting Grounded in Princess Anne, which no longer exists,” said Hernandez. “Now it’s M Street Grill. I worked at Getting Grounded from 2012 through 2015. I knew I was supposed to be a coffee shop owner.”

Hernandez’s parents died while he was in high school, a little more than a year apart, he said. He was a teenager at the time. His family is Cuban, and Hernandez is a first-generation American, whose father came to America seeking a better life. He arrived in Florida and eventually settled in the District of Columbia.

“Most of my family is still in Cuba,” he said. “They are a tight-knit family.”

Today, Hernandez lives near Downtown Salisbury and has a 2-year-old daughter.

It was his first job in a Washington, D.C., coffee shop that defined Hernandez’s career aspirations. He worked at Bus Boys and Poets.

“This inspired me to create something like that,” Hernandez said. “The business is based on the life and works of Langston Hughes, who had worked as a busboy in New York City. Hughes would slip copies of his poems to editors who patronized the coffee shop, trying to get published.”

Olde Towne Deli, situated just across the street from the historic Wicomico County Courthouse and the Government Office Building, offers a convenient location and friendly atmosphere help make this a popular Downtown breakfast and lunch destination.

Richard and Melissa Malone opened Olde Towne Deli in August 2016, after a lifetime of feeding anyone who was hungry – family, friends, church members or anyone else in need of a good meal.

Melissa and Richard Malone with Olde Towne’s new owner, Vicente Hernandez.

That background created a foundation for the establishment’s mission: to serve the community good food and create a space for everyone to feel loved.

The Malones felt their strong faith in God had led them to this work.

“We met Vicente in January of 2016, six months before we opened,” Melissa Malone wrote when the transition was announced. “There was an instant connection.

When the Malones decided it was time to retire, Hernandez found himself in the right place at the right time – something that was no accident, he believes, as he shared the Malones’ strong sense of mission.

“I just know this is where God wanted me to be,” Hernandez said. “It feels more like home here than it did across the bridge. I really appreciate my time here on the Eastern Shore. I really like it here. I’m just following God’s plan. He’s definitely providing.”

Hernandez is living his dream – the American dream, really. He went to settlement with the Malones Aug. 5 and now he owns the cafe where he once worked.

Hernandez isn’t planning any immediate changes to the business, though he has adjusted the name, replacing “Deli” with “Cafe and Coffeehouse.”.

“Nothing is really broken here, there’s nothing to fix,” he said, “but I do plan to someday bring in my artistic side.”

While no immediate changes are in the works, Hernandez said he is looking forward to the renovation of the former Vernon Powell building, which will include nice apartments. He’s also looking at a future a 12-story student housing complex with event space on top, which is also planned for Downtown in the near future.

“An influx of residents Downtown will enable me to be open later hours and weekends,” Hernandez said.

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