The back story to Fayetteville newcomer Soleil Cafe is the tale of Taylor Randolph and Shem Doupe, their passion for coffee and their love for each other.
They’re both 23 and met when Randolph worked as a barista for Cafe Kubal. He works near the Kubal location in Eastwood and stopped in regularly. They bonded over coffee and friendship, began dating and are now engaged to be married in August. “It’s a coffee shop love story,” Randolph says with a smile.
One day, while discussing their hopes for the future, Randolph told Doupe she has always dreamed of having a cafe, even though she doesn’t consider herself a “business person.” Owning a business has been a dream of his, too. They talked more and decided not to wait, even though they are also planning a wedding.
When the couple learned about a retail space available at 511 E. Genesee St. in the village of Fayetteville, they signed a lease and commenced work on it. “Everything basically fell into place,” Randolph says.
Soleil Cafe opened May 2. The small space is fresh and bright, with a minimalist look, seating for about 15 people plus several outside tables. It’s in the horseshoe-shaped plaza just east of Dunkin’ Donuts (formerly Friendly’s) on Route 5. But it’s a world away from DD.
There’s drip coffee and espresso drinks such as cappuccino and macchiatos. Already, the Soleil Latte (espresso with steamed milk) has emerged as the signature drink. Randolph describes it as “bright and warm,” flavored with a homemade syrup made with honey and cinnamon. It can be ordered hot or iced. The syrups used for the specialty coffees are made in-house.
Soleil also serves cold brew coffee, in which the drink is brewed with cold water for 16 hours. Emerging as another customer favorite is Soleil’s pourover, a single-serve drip coffee that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee in a filter that drips directly into a mug. The process takes about four minutes and the result is a cup that tastes super-fresh, with no bitterness. If you normally take your coffee with cream, you might skip it with a pourover: It’s that smooth.
As for treats to go with the café’s coffees and loose leaf teas, Randolph says Soleil is “outsourcing” that job to local bakers. In the bakery case are items from Picasso’s Pastries and cookies from Sweet Jimmy’s, including some gluten-free and vegan options. Saturdays are reserved for a special treat: waffles made to order and served with real maple syrup.
Another local business getting representation at Soleil is Peaks Coffee Co., a micro-roaster on Route 20 in Nelson, Madison County, in the cluster of buildings known as Nelson Corners. Peaks is owned and operated by Sam Bender and Kelsey Ball. Their coffee is available at the roastery in Nelson and featured at a couple restaurants, including the Pewter Spoon in Cazenovia and Plate & Pallet in Morrisville. Peaks beans are available by the bag at Soleil.
Soleil Cafe is open Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you want waffles on Saturday, get there early. For Soleil Café information, call 447-9998 or visit soleil-cafe.com. For information on Peaks Coffee, visit peakscoffeeco.com.
Trucks and Brews at Food Fest
Have you ever enjoyed a meal from a food truck and found it lacking a perfect pairing — like a nice cold beer to wash it down? Then you’ll appreciate the Syracuse Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival, which takes place Saturday, May 21, noon to 7 p.m., at the New York State Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd.
The event is sponsored by Massachusetts-based Food Truck Festivals of America. About 20 local and regional food trucks will participate, including The Chicken Bandit, Toss ‘n’ Fire Pizza, PB&J’s Lunch Box, Lady Bug Lunch Box, Cruisin Cones, That’s What’s Up and the Salt City Food Truck, based at the Arad Evans Inn, Fayetteville. There’s even a vegetarian/vegan truck rolling in: the Ithaca-based Star Truck.
Participating breweries include Middle Ages Brewing Company, Brewery Ommegang and Southern Tier Brewing and a long list of regional and national brewers, including Abita, Allagash, Bells, Dogfish Head, Goose Island and Great Lakes.
Prices range from $5 for an advance online ticket ($10 day of event; pay extra for food and beer) to $30 for an online beer sampler ticket ($40 day of event) that gets you unlimited two-ounce pours of craft beer. For information and ticket options, visit foodtruckfestivalsofamerica.com and click on Syracuse.
Margaret McCormick is a freelance writer and editor in Syracuse. She blogs about food at eatfirst.typepad.com. Follow her on twitter.com/mmccormickcny, connect on facebook.com/EatFirstCNY or email her at [email protected].