Food

Recess Appointment for Downtown

People.com’s recent list of “24 Coffee Shops You Have to Visit” put the Westcott Nation’s Recess Coffee on the radar screen of caffeine lovers all over the world. Another benefit of that exposure is Recess’ upcoming expansion to downtown Syracuse.

Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times Recess Coffee owners Adam Williams (left) and Jesse Daino

Recess Coffee owners Adam Williams (left) and Jesse Daino.
Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

James Prioletti, owner of the Courier Building, 110 Montgomery St., across from City Hall, reached out to Recess owners Adam Williams and Jesse Daino after seeing People.com’s feature, according to Recess communications manager Allison Beonde. The wedge-shaped building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been completely renovated to include three floors of residential space.

The ground floor of the building formerly housed L’Adour Restaurant Francais. It has been redeveloped to include three distinct spaces: the owner’s offices (Ameriprise Financial Services), space for a future restaurant tenant and the small space on the east side (Montgomery Street) of the building, facing City Hall, that will be home to Recess.

“We were really excited to get in to see the space,” Beonde says. “Jesse and Adam were really taken with the charm of the building and the historic qualities it had to offer.”

Adam Williams (left) and Jesse Daino Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Adam Williams (left) and Jesse Daino.
Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Daino has fingers crossed for a Sept. 1 opening, but time will tell if that’s a realistic date. Work is under way in the small, funky space, which will have an exposed brick wall and seating for about 15 people, plus outdoor seating for eight to 10 people when the weather is nice, Beonde says. Artist Cayetano Valenzuela, of Black Rabbit Studio, is at work on hand-lettered interior signage.

Beonde says the new Recess will be streamlined, with a more “modern and sleek presence” than the original Recess, which occupies the first floor of a house on Harvard Place and has a laid-back, eclectic vibe. It’s a favorite hangout of high schoolers, college students and neighborhood residents alike.

Making the move downtown will be most of Recess’ menu items, including espresso and specialty drinks, cold brew, hot and cold teas, gourmet hot chocolate, smoothies, shakes and homemade baked goods, both regular and vegan. The menu also includes sandwiches, soups and paninis. “We recently added on a few new items,” Beonde notes, “including freshly prepared wraps and salads that will add to our offering of healthy lunch options.”

Jesse Daino (left) and Adam Williams Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Jesse Daino (left) and Adam Williams stand at the site of the future downtown Recess Coffee.
Michael Davis photo | Syracuse New Times

Daino and Williams opened Recess in 2007 as both a coffeehouse and roastery. The coffeehouse was renovated last year to both update and streamline the counter-ordering area and add more seating. The roasting operation was moved from a former diner on Burnet Avenue to a 3,000-square-foot warehouse off Carrier Circle that serves as roasting, baking and office space.

Two of Syracuse’s leading roasters are already established in downtown Syracuse: Cafe Kubal in the Dey’s Centennial Plaza and a second location across the street from the Niagara Mohawk (National Grid) building, and Freedom of Espresso in Armory Square and Franklin Square. Big-chain java joints are represented, too: Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Horton’s.

That doesn’t bother the Recess partners. Daino says the City Hall-Hanover Square area is “untapped” territory for a good cup of coffee.

“While there are other coffee shops downtown, there aren’t other local coffee roasters in this same area,” Beonde notes. “The fact that so many coffee shops can exist downtown is a real testament to the growth and reinvigoration of downtown Syracuse as a business and residential hub. Having some healthy competition helps to raise the standards for each establishment, which is ultimately good for customers.”

Three of Syracuse’s leading roasters are already established in downtown Syracuse: Smith Housewares and Restaurant Supply, with its Hyman Smith Coffee roastery, at Erie Boulevard and Townsend Street; Cafe Kubal in the Dey’s Centennial Plaza and a second location across the street from the Niagara Mohawk (National Grid) building and Freedom of Espresso in Armory Square and Franklin Square. Big-chain java joints are represented, too: Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Horton’s.

That doesn’t bother the Recess partners. Daino says the City Hall-Hanover Square area is “untapped” territory for a good cup of coffee.

“The fact that so many coffee shops can exist downtown is a real testament to the growth and reinvigoration of downtown Syracuse as a business and residential hub,” Beonde says. “Having some healthy competition helps to raise the standards for each establishment, which is ultimately good for customers.”

Recess Coffee, 110 Harvard Place, in the heart of the Westcott neighborhood, is open daily, 7 a.m. to midnight. For information, visit recesscoffee.com or on Facebook.com.

Margaret McCormick is a freelance writer and editor in Syracuse. She blogs about food at eatfirst.typepad.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect on Facebook or email her at mmccormicksnt@gmail.com.

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