By Michelle Blackley Glynn
If you build it, they will come for coffee … and stay for a meal.
Who doesn’t love to spend time in a local coffee shop? The smell of baked goods, the murmured sounds of people talking, and the first taste of freshly brewed coffee. For many, this morning tradition was greatly missed during the quarantine of 2020.
Although this year is still anything but normal, there is a new “spot” in Niagara Falls that offers a break from the daily grind.
Niagara Falls is usually bustling with visitors, but due to the travel restrictions associated with COVID-19, there are more locals than anything in the downtown corridor this year. According to a roundtable discussion led by New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul this summer, Niagara Falls tourism businesses are seeing, on a daily average, an 80% reduction in business. This, however, did not stop the construction project at 24 Buffalo Ave. The formerly vacant, downstairs location at the previous Niagara Club is the newest and 24th location in the local SPoT Coffee chain – and the first in Niagara County.
The owners of SPoT – Niagara Falls natives – have a mission of beautifying Niagara Falls as their life purpose.
“They wanted to bring in a business that would elevate the tourism experience,” explained Shelly Cieslak, vice president of operations for franchisee Rupal Hospitality.
So far business has been steady. “We are doing better than expected,” one barista said.
A combination of the great location, top-quality products, and great customer service could just be the recipe for success, even during a pandemic.
“It has been really great for us, because people aren’t traveling internationally and instead they are driving to destinations. We are operating more like a restaurant than a coffee shop, because we are within walking distance to the park entrance,” Cieslak said. “SPoT is usually a place for a date, coffee or to work on a laptop, but at this location, people are grabbing a quick meal.
“Our location blew others out of the water with double, triple the numbers during the pandemic. We had a great opening.”
SPoT’s micro-roasting process includes using state-of-the-art equipment, and every cup is made by expert roasters who brew drinks using a small batch process.
The menu matches the other 23 locations, and the drinks do not disappoint. Try a coffee, iced coffee, or decaf espresso that can be made into an iced-Americano.
Feeling peckish? The pastries are provided by Western New York’s own Dessert Deli. Choose from cookies, croissants, or muffins – the lemon cranberry pleases sweet palates with a creamy custard surprise in the center.
They also have breakfast sandwiches that are filling, with healthy options – egg white anyone? At lunchtime, try a hummus wrap, traditional sandwich or savory salad, all made in-house. They also have stone-oven, thin-crust pizza.
The spacious SPoT Coffee Niagara Falls is a great place to catch up on work or meet up with friends, inside or out. Take-in a beverage and watch the rapids, while the weather allows, at one of the sidewalk-lined tables.
The project was made possible by a $10,000 micro-grant and is phase one of Rupal Hospitality’s plan to reopen the entire building as a banquet and entertainment facility. Currently, in the design phase, Cieslak said construction is expected to start in the spring, and feature a full, sit-down restaurant and rooftop patio.
SPoT Coffee Niagara Falls serves customers daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Michelle Blackley Glynn resides in Western New York. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at shellblackley.