Situated along the north side of the Erie Canal in Pittsford, Schoen Place and the adjacent Northfield Common offer a distinctive shopping, dining and/or relaxation experience.
In many ways, it’s a waterside commerce community all of its own.
“It really is an afternoon destination, a place to get a coffee and walk the canal, to go shopping or to grab a pint,” said Brenna Van Norman, owner of Cleo + Kin.
Van Norman opened her store in December. The boutique gift shop provides women’s clothing, home goods and home décor, along with homemade fragrances and jewelry. Many of the brands she carries are creations from independent and women-owned enterprises.
She and her husband grew up in the area but spent 12 years in San Diego, where she operated her own business. She wasn’t necessarily looking to jump back into retail upon her return, but realized she missed the camaraderie that goes along with a business.
Van Norman looked at real estate options in several communities but said she soon realized the Schoen Place/Northfield Common district was perfect for her.
“The building itself and the network of buildings and businesses just reconnected with me,” she said. “And everyone works together. I’ve had people come in and say, ‘I was over there and they said I had to come here.’”
As Nicole McLean, owner of Via Girasole Wine Bar says, Schoen Place “is a collaborative.” It’s business neighbors helping business neighbors.
Nicole Heroux Williams, co-owner of Simply Crepes knows the feeling. Simply Crepes has been a part of Schoen Place since 2003.
“It’s a quaint little historic piece of Pittsford,” she said. “Our specific building was built when the canal was built and there are so many cool elements to the structure.
“We do a lot of events in our cellar and the walls are made of stone that was pulled from the canal. You can still see the old railroad ties on the ceiling.”
The sense of community is evident for patrons at Lock 32 Brewing Co., who can sit outside beside the firepits and enjoy a pint while munching on takeout from Simply Crepes.
“It just lends itself to a really fun atmosphere,” Heroux Williams said.
That’s especially true on a sunny day in the spring, summer or fall.
“There will be so many walkers and people riding bikes, people feeding the ducks,” Heroux Williams said.
Neutral Grounds loves seeing the cyclists and walkers at their Schoen Place location — they even admit it right on the homepage of their website. Their menu includes a coffee in its various forms — lattes, Americanos, cold brew, etc. — as well as an enticing selection of breakfast and lunch options.
The coffeehouse aims to be a cornerstone in the Rochester community for family and friends to gather. Their motto is “Everybody is welcome, let’s all keep it neutral,” reflecting the friendly, neighborhood vibes of Schoen Place.
Just down the way is Simply Crepes, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner but the name is a little misleading. Yes, there are crepes, but you’ll also find an expanded menu that includes burgers, French toast, chicken sandwiches and more, including cocktails.
“We call ourselves polished casual,” Heroux Williams said. “You can bring the kids or it’s a great place for date night.”
Via Girasole Wine Bar, a gourmet and specialty shop, opened in Schoen Place in July of 2015 and is affiliated with its Schoen Place neighbor, Pittsford Wine & Spirits.
The opening came not long after Lock 32 began brewing and serving beer.
“Lock 32 opened a year prior and we saw people had a need for beer,” McLean said. “We thought, ‘Maybe people have a need for wine as well,’ and we’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ ever since.”
The nature of the building and location on the canal provides an ideal casual dining and get-outside experience.
“What’s nice about it is they force you to walk or bike, so you really have to take in the beauty of the whole area,” McLean said.
Toward the end of Northfield Common is Northfield Music, for 39 years a haven for guitar lovers. Owner Joe Chiappone has owned the store since 1983 and says the setting has been perfect.
“People come in and play the guitar all the time,” he said. “We have quite the cacophony of guitar players.”
And Schoen Place and Northfield Common have quite the array of businesses.
“There’s a tailor shop, a cupcake place, a yoga studio, gift shops, a beads place,” Chiappone said. “It’s really more of a destination.”