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The café on Quail Street

May 10, 2011

by Bakari Lake-Sample

Sunspot Cafe 212 Quail St. Albany, NY (Bakari Lake-Sample)

Sun shines bright through the windows of the café on the corner of Quail and Elberon Street where the Chapman Stained Glass Studio was once housed. Now, Sunspot Café occupies the space and is beginning to establish itself in the area.

Tom Genovese is the owner of Sunspot Café and a mechanical engineer by trade from the Albany area. He always had plans of opening a café. “I’ve spent enough time in cafés to know what I really like,” said Genovese. “I’ve done enough work in city planning issues to know what will benefit a city…this is my contribution to Albany.”

He first noticed the building on 212 Quail St. when he walked his two mixed German shepherd pit bulls to Washington Park. “I had been looking for a location in Albany that had decent visibility and an area where people can sit outside,” said Genovese “this location had both.”

(Bakari Lake-Sample)

The art that decorates the walls of the café are from artists in and around the area. Genovese said the artist’s community is underrepresented in the city and the café is a place to help cater to that population.

The atmosphere of the café is welcoming and relaxing, with a number of lounge seats and free Wi-Fi. Customers can surf the web, do work or chat with friends while their order is prepared and delivered by one of the café workers.

About 10 people are on staff working both part-time and some full-time doing various jobs in the café. Laura Brigmull, an early childhood education student at Hudson Valley Community College, has been on staff since the café’s opening. “I love it,” said Brigmull as she took customers orders. She said she’s learning a lot and the other employees are fun to work with. Her favorite dishes are the Blue Cheese Panini and Grilled Cheese sandwich.

Gaining in popularity is the café’s Sunspot Burger. It’s a vegetarian corn and black bean

(Bakari Lake-Sample)

burger with roasted peppers, lettuce, chipotle mayo on a bun. The menu also includes dishes such as the Veggie Breakfast wrap, Greek Salad and Grilled Chicken Pesto. Everything is prepared from scratch including the baked goods and pastries. They are also introducing more vegan and gluten free foods for special diet needs.

Since Sunspot Café’s opening it has held live music performances including both jazz and tango. These live performances have been successful and Genovese plans to continue doing them weekly with acoustic type shows and open mic night.

Every Friday night the café has movie night and on Saturdays game day. A number of board games have been donated to the café for the customers to play while they enjoy their food.

Promoting the café was largely done through Facebook and word of mouth. Before the grand opening they had private events to help build the buzz. The entire process to get setup took about a year, because of permits and renovations. “Through Facebook we did a lot of promoting,” said Genovese. “Word spread a lot through that and we held events before the opening.”

Business has been good at Sunspot. Their busiest times are on the weekends, but with continued promotion through Facebook, events and reviews they expect business to pick up more during the weekdays. What’s encouraging is word about the café is spreading and people are stopping by. Already they have regular customers some of whom return with friends and family. The customers are not just students, but those in and around the Pine Hills community.

As the summer approaches Genovese hopes the café’s food offering will help make it a destination. He intends to offer a signature brunch menu.

As an addition to the community the Sunspot Café’s future looks bright.

Sunspot Café is located on 212 Quail Street in Albany, NY. Their hours of business are Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday 8 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Their full menu can be found on their website and they can also be found on Facebook . -30-


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