Agora Downtown Coffee Shop, owned by sisters MJ Stone and Andi Stone Chitty, is a coffee shop, used bookstore, gift shop, and a tremendous labor of love. Located in one of the oldest buildings in Fredericksburg (built in 1787), and most recently a residence, Agora is described by customers as feeling like a friend’s house that also serves you coffee and delicious homemade treats.
Here’s what you’ll find:
Espresso, coffee, tea, & other drinks
Specialty liquor drinks
Baked goods and sandwiches
Printing Services (color and b&w)
Dog-friendly outdoor seating
Local handmade wares by over 90 local entrepreneurs
Plenty of charging stations/outlets
As teenagers, MJ’s dream was to open a coffee shop and Andi knew she wanted a bakery. Being so young and close in age, we of course did not get along well enough to consider having them combined into one, but we used to joke about having them next door to each other! We grew closer in college and, at the suggestion of our mother to open a coffee shop/bakery downtown, jumped on the idea.
At the the time, MJ was finishing her M.S. in Business at Elmira College, and Andi was in her last year at Virginia Tech getting her degree in Food Science and Technology. We spent our last year in school having Skype meetings to write our business plan and visiting coffee shops in New York and Virginia to meet with their baristas and owners. Immediately after graduation in 2014, we dove in as a family to find a place, renovate it to rezone it into a commercial space and then into a restaurant, and staff it. As a stubborn “do-it-yourself-er” family of 7, we ended up spending almost eleven months working close to full-time on a tight budget to get the space ready.
Our first day open was May 2nd, 2015. We didn’t have any employees until 5 months in, so while Andi and MJ put in about 120 hours a week each, our two younger sisters and our little brother often helped out behind the bar, our father worked maintenance for us, and our mother took care of the outside landscaping and came in a couple times a week to make sandwiches in the coffee shop’s kitchen for us to sell. With everyone pitching in, it truly became a family-run restaurant.
Since then, we’ve grown a lot in both staff and offerings in the coffee shop. With all the hard work put into Agora, it has turned into something incredible that we and many others have fallen in love with. We have wonderful baristas and customers that quickly turn into some of our best friends, delicious high quality baked goods and espresso drinks, and the unique ability to help out the community by representing artists, contributing to community events, and hosting fundraisers for local causes. It has actually become a dream come true.
If you’re reading this because you’re interested in visiting Agora, we hope you stop by and enjoy our labor of love!
Man this place is wonderful! It rivals or even beats coffee joints out in Seattle where I come from.
Love love love this place. Delicious vegan bakery items and marvelous coffee plus friendly staff. The gingerbread is the best I've ever eaten.
Great music with awesome coffee last night. Thanks.
Have always enjoyed. Would like to request a Medium Latte be available.
Luis from NYC visited Wednesday and tried your iced chai- divine! He greatly enjoyed all of the local art as well and looks forward to returning.
We visited Monday morning with Sean Ricks. Agora is doing a wonderful job. It was so refreshing to get such a perfect latte and the customer service was fantastic. If I still lived in Fredericksburg I would be there all the time. We love Ricks Roasters Coffee and the girls at Agora!