The Grind Rail Trail Café attracts customers with healthy food and award-winning coffee

November 1, 2016 - Melanie Davis and Carmel Shea are both active users of the Derry Rail Trail. A few years ago, after a bike ride, they noticed there were no real options to relax, grab some healthy food, or just hang out with friends over a coffee near the trail.

They had young children, were at crossroads in their respective careers, so they decided to open The Grind Rail Trail Café on the Derry Rail Trail in April 2014 to fill that void. It turns out that betting on active living and good, nutritious food was a healthy business decision and they began turning a profit within months of opening.

According to Davis, “We opened right on the rail trail hoping that there were other people like us who would appreciate a fun place to be with family and friends, enjoy some healthy food, grab a cup of coffee and feel comfortable wearing their biking or cross-country ski gear. We were welcomed immediately. The response was overwhelming!”

The Grind Rail Trail Café, serves health-conscious food that is local and organic whenever available, as well as locally roasted organic coffee. It has not only gained huge popularity in the Greater Derry area, it has been recognized statewide, receiving awards for best coffee shop by the Hippo, New Hampshire Magazine and WMUR.

Davis credits much of the café’s success to its location on the rail trail and noted that the sign and bike rack right off the trail really helped attract customers. The Derry Rail Trail is a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for safe place without vehicles to bicycle, walk, ski and snowshoe. It has eight miles of paved path running from Windham right into Derry’s downtown. It’s the longest paved section of the Granite State Rail Trail and plans to expand it to the Londonderry trail are in the works. She noted that the sign and bike rack right off the trail really helped attract customers.

According to Will Stewart, President of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and HEAL NH Leadership Council member, the rail trail continues to provide economic stimulus, not just to The Grind, but to much of downtown Derry and surrounding communities.

He added that Derry is looking to add Complete Streets components such as bicycle lanes and better crosswalks to make Broadway, the busy Route 102 connector which runs through the downtown, more walkable and bikable. “We want to help improve the built environment so that downtown businesses can benefit from pedestrians and bicyclists and feel confident about opening in Derry.”

Derry is just one of dozens of New Hampshire communities that are increasing efforts around Complete Streets and public recreation spaces. Concord, Portsmouth, Dover, Swanzey, Keene, Troy and Hinsdale have all adopted official Complete Streets policies, while dozens of other communities, such as Nashua, Manchester and Colebrook, have incorporated walkability and bikability into their approach to infrastructure improvements. This trend promises to continue with the State legislature passing a bill earlier this year to study ways to integrate Complete Streets practices into the 10-year transportation improvement plan.

The good news is that there is strong evidence that these statewide efforts will pay off – well beyond The Grind success in Derry. At the HEAL NH Conference on October 12, Semra Aytur, PhD, MPH Associate Professor Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of New Hampshire, outlined the results of a local study that found several health and economic benefits associated with active recreation spaces and walkable, bikable communities. A stronger local economy, higher leisure-time activity, increased property values, healthier workforce, and “increased perceptions of happiness,” were listed as just some of the benefits.

(See the full presentation here:


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