Jan 02, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
Matt Godard is crazy about coffee.
The 35-year-old Syracuse resident — born and raised — can tell you the difference between coffee beans, brewed coffee flavors and the decision making behind hiring employees for his three Cafe Kubal shops.
Let’s say he doesn’t employ just anyone.
“I hire people who love Syracuse,” he said. “They also need to treat our customers well.”
What he’s done with his James Street and Tully Street locations has allowed him to expand by opening a third shop downtown at 401 S. Salina St. Developers Bob Doucette and Rich deVito approached Godard, and he “was sold on their vision.” Dec. 23 was the new store’s grand opening.
It’s a prime location, as the building has 45 apartments, all of which are rented, and more than 250 people work there.
Godard started the business more than five years ago as a wholesaler, selling roasted coffee beans online and to local businesses. Unsatisfied, he decided he wanted to open a shop.
“I had a cafe-type place in mind,” he said. “I did it for the people who have a passion for coffee and food, and also to make those customers feel welcome, warm when they walk in the door.”
After a successful five years in business, Cafe Kubal sprouted up downtown. Godard said he wanted to provide to the area a place that’s an alternative to all the bars. The new location is open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 p.m. the rest of the week.
Godard studied English at Calvin College in Michigan, but decided against a career in journalism. Now, he’s fully invested in what he does.
“There’s a science behind all this,” he quipped. “If you pay attention to 1,000 details, then that adds up to superior quality. It’s the mentality of excellence — can I make it better? You always have to strive to be the best.”
His business survived the worst of the recent recession. Godard provides coffee to Pastabilities, among a few other restaurants in the area.
“Our strength is that we’re an affordable luxury,” he said. “I know it’s a buzzword, but our biggest thing is that we treat our customers well. In my mind, having that coffee break is a sacred moment during everyone’s day. I think that makes us recession-proof, because it’s the highlight of a lot of people’s day. We want our customers to see our sincere passion, diligence and respect.”
Godard said he volunteers at a few places, such as the Eastwood Chamber of Commerce and the Eastwood Neighborhood Association.
Becky Benedict, a 24-year-old Syracuse resident, is an employee at the Eastwood location on James Street. She’s been there seven months, and said she enjoys her job.
“I just really like interacting with people and seeing the customers,” she said.
A woman she was serving on Dec. 28, who declined to be identified, said the coffee was great and the atmosphere is inviting.
Godard said he’d like to take advantage of any realistic opportunity for his business in the future, but he won’t go too far.
“We do benefit from all this,” he said, pointing around the small, quaint store on James Street where the cafe got its start. “But we’re not in it to benefit, we’re in it for the benefit. When it’s good, it’s great.”
Neil Benjamin Jr. is an editor/reporter for The Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.