Restaurants > Ten Questions Interview With Tamara Stevens
Downtown Glens Falls is quickly becoming the epicenter for the hometown fun feeling. With businesses expanding, new ones opening, and for lease signs disappearing, the feeling of a downturn economy is out of sight.
One new business that has recently opened in downtown Glens Fall, is The Orange Cat Café. Owner, Tamara Stevens, opened her doors to us at GlensFallsRegion.com to give some insight into what her new coffee shop has to offer our hometown community.
1. What is the history behind The Orange Cat Café, and what made you want to open up shop here in Glens Falls, NY?
Since Block Island is very seasonal, it was great in the summer months, and not able to carry itself in the winter months. I began looking for a year round venue. I intended to keep the cafe on Block Island, and try to find a spot nearby, in Rhode Island, to be my year round cafe.
The one on Block Island would be a seasonal cafe. I searched, but to no avail. I listed the cafe on Block Island for sale, and decided that, if it sold, I could look elsewhere, out of state, for a year round place, and if it didn't sell, I would still continue my search and keep it as a seasonal cafe. Within two weeks after listing my business, I had a buyer. I heard about the Boston Candy Kitchen on the market and decided to look at it. I loved the location, and I loved the layout of the space. Downtown Glens Falls was on the rise and has yet to meet its potential.
I felt it was a wonderful opportunity. Also, I was born and raised in Glens Falls and graduated from Glens Falls High. Most of my family lives here. I would be near them, and that really appealed to me. It all came together very nicely and I'm thrilled to be back.
What inspired the name 'Orange Cat' Café?
My big orange tabby, Cash. He inspired me. I have always wanted to open my own coffee shop, and found the perfect space on Block Island, in Rhode Island. Since it was the first shop I ever opened, I could name it anything I wanted to. I asked people for suggestions, and thought about it for a while. One night I was sitting around the table with some friends, and one of them was holding my big orange tabby named "Cash". I said "What about 'The Orange Cat Cafe'? Everyone in unison said, "That's it! That is what you should name the cafe." It was perfect! Everyone said, "It will be like the Black Dog on Martha's Vineyard." The Orange Cat of Block Island was born.
There are a few small coffee shops in the area. What do you feel sets you apart from the others?
I've been in each of the coffee shops around my cafe, and I feel we all offer a different experience. What I have that is different is, first and foremost, the atmosphere of an old fashioned soda fountain. I offer ice cream, sundaes and milkshakes, along with a full breakfast and lunch menu and a wide range of coffee and coffee beverages (latte, espresso, cappuccino, etc).
We also serve breakfast all day. I brew 8 different coffee strengths and flavors daily. I also bake all of my pastries in house, from scratch. We use local farms for our eggs, grass fed beef, maple syrup and dairy. We purchase only organic produce. My feature flavored coffee varies everyday. We have free wireless internet and are open daily: 7am - 5pm, Monday through Saturday, and 8am - 4pm on Sunday
If you were a customer in your own cafe, what would you order from the menu?
For breakfast I would order pancakes, our Farmhouse Panini or our homemade corned beef hash & eggs. For lunch I would order our turkey cranberry sandwich, or a 100% grass fed burger, grilled to perfection!
You said that you feel it is important to create a cozy space for your customers. Do you feel that requires changes to your shop for the changing seasons?
Yes, and for the changing holidays. To decorate for the spirit of the upcoming holiday, and to keep the menu fresh, with the season's popular fruit and produce, is important. Cranberry, apple, pumpkin and maple are all very popular for the fall and winter. And hot, comfort food, like baked macaroni & cheese, chili, stew, and hot soups, are great items to have on a fall/winter menu. Where, in the spring and summer, strawberry, blueberry, lemon, are very popular, and fresh salads are great on a spring/summer menu.
How do you feel about having your shop open for the full year, rather than seasonally?
I used to say that I liked to work really hard for 6 months, work leisurely for 4 months and take two months off. There is something nice about being able to take two months off and travel. However, along with that comes having to budget for the slower months constantly, and working really hard and not being able to enjoy the beaches and the nice weather during the summer months.
Now, I really am enjoying the day to day operations of a year round shop. Of course, we still work really hard. The main difference is that our revenue stays steady on a year round basis, rather than everything coming in over six months, and nothing coming in the remaining six months. It makes a huge difference.
How does the Glens Falls clientele compare with your former Rhode Island location?
In Rhode Island my clientele was mostly take out, to the beach. I also sold much more coffee and espresso drinks in Rhode Island. I was known as a coffee shop, not a restaurant. Here, I am still trying to get the word out that I am a coffee shop, as well as a restaurant. I have a lot more people eating in, and very little take out.
Describe your venue in 3 words.
Coffee shop, restaurant, organic
Aside from running your business, what are some personal hobbies or local activities that you enjoy?
I enjoy dancing, hiking, gardening. I love animals and nature. I really enjoy hiking in the mountains and walking around Downtown Glens Falls and Lake George Village. I also love traveling.
What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own small business?
Make sure you love the business you would like to own. Make sure that you have worked in a similar place and enjoy it. I was totally immersed in the restaurant industry before dreaming about opening my shop. I thought about opening up a consignment shop once, and a friend of mine who owns one said "You should work for me for a few months to see if it is something you really want to do". I thought that was really good advice. I love the hospitality industry, and I love to bake and cook, so it is a natural fit. Make sure you love what you do. If your heart and passion are in it, you will love and enjoy it.
21 Elm Street
Glens Falls, NY 12801
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