Tucked away (like all great cafés) in a little village in a small Cape Cod town, The Merc is the quintessential neighborhood café, run by the quintessential neighbors, and frequented by the quintessential old-salt characters that make a little coffee shop into the best local café.
Started in 1978, The Dennis Village Mercantile was operated as such until Jim and Katie Hempel took over the business in the millennial year of 2000—a sign of good luck and great things to come. While Jim and Katie operated The Merc, their daughter Meagan was busy preparing herself for a career in pouring coffee and making the best sandwiches in town, all while finishing up her BA at Merrimack College in North Andover. To make a very long story short, Meagan (studying liberal arts in North Andover, daughter of Jim and Katie Hempel of Dennis) married the local boy Mark (living in Worcester, son of Ed and Margie Lambton of Dennis) in 2008. A big wedding in town with lots of love passed around, two families now joined, and a new team created. Having very little to their names apart from the love of family life, two degrees between them, and a desire to create a community around this little local landmark, Mark and Meagan together made the leap and took over operating The Merc in 2010.
Meagan, with the help of her staff, runs this daily show, and around her has grown the heartbeat of Dennis Village. From 3:30AM when the bake-off starts (so that you can have the freshest muffins in town), right on through to breakfast, lunch, and then the end-of-the-day, back-from-the-beach sandwiches and chips, it’s all happening inside this little shop. What happens outside this little shop is equally amazing. The Merc has expanded their services to include full catering to all locales and events (including groups of 100) or even just a backyard luncheon that you need delivered straight to your home for you and ten of your closest friends.
Walk up the classic white front porch, past the dogs greeting everyone, through the swinging doors and into the bustle of the shop, order the (continuously voted and pretty much unanimously considered) best sandwiches on the Cape, and then head straight out the back door to the patio or straight down the street to the beach. See the local celebs, mingle with all the landscapers and carpenters, dodge a few little kids racing around in flip-flops while you wait; talk books, news, traffic, weather, movies at the cinema, plays at the playhouse, and art at the gallery; or, you can always do what small towns do best and just gossip away to your coffee’s content.