An “under contract” sign hangs outside the former Harpswell Anchor office at 945 Harpswell Neck Road. (Robin Casey photo)

A Brunswick entrepreneur plans to open a coffee shop in Harpswell Center, in the former home of the Harpswell Anchor.

Kelley Hughes, founder and owner of Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery, plans to call the business the Itty Bitty Coffee Shop. The shop will serve high-quality coffee and specialty drinks, as well as small-batch baked goods made on-site.

The property at 945 Harpswell Neck Road was home to the Harpswell Anchor under the ownership of Robert “Bob” Anderson, editor and publisher of the Anchor from its founding in 1998 until it ceased publication in 2020.

Harpswell News, the nonprofit that purchased the newspaper and resumed its publication in 2021, has never owned or occupied the building.

Anderson owns the 540-square-foot building and the 0.4-acre lot. Constructed in 1970, the building was a real estate office and an accountant’s office, among other uses, before Anderson bought it in 2000.

The building was recently renovated and advertised as a one-bedroom house for $284,000. The property is under contract to Hughes and her husband, George Cabot IV.

The Harpswell Planning Board unanimously approved the change of use for the property on March 15, with the condition that parking spaces must be striped.

Hughes’ application to the Planning Board details her background and plans for the property.

Hughes has run successful businesses since the early 1990s, when she started a hot dog and vegetable stand called The Poor Man’s Lobster in her hometown of Standish. The stand was a summer gig for the young teacher.

Later, she became a social worker and started The Good Earth Gardening Company to supplement her income.

About 14 years ago, she founded Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery. The application calls Wildflours “a one-of-a-kind bakery and wholesale business that has survived a recession, a fire, a pandemic, and, most recently, in-town competition.”

The bakery’s website says it got its start “as a wee gluten-free grocery shop with a closet-sized kitchen and small bakery case” at 1 Mason St. in downtown Brunswick.

The building burned in 2011 and the business re-formed as a small wholesale bakery at 54 Cumberland St., growing into a full-service bakery in 2017.

Hughes plans to sell Wildflours as she opens the Itty Bitty Coffee Shop. The former is under contract. Both transactions could close in early April.

“It is my (belief) that Itty Bitty has the opportunity to become a beloved little gem in the community of Harpswell,” she says in the application.

She does not have a firm timeline, but would like to open by summer, she said by phone on March 8. Hughes will be the only employee, but will have help from her teenage daughter. They plan to keep the shop open year-round, except for a month’s break in the winter.

Hughes will reconfigure the building’s interior and may paint the exterior. The shop will not have indoor seating, at least in the beginning, but she hopes to have picnic tables outside.

Hughes often visits Harpswell and is excited to become part of the community. “I’ve had a crush on Harpswell for a really long time,” she said.