Preview: The Sunspot Cafe on Quail

If you happened to have skated by the icy block of Quail and Elberon recently, you’ll have seen through the giant glass windows of the once lax building on the corner, people working late into the night hours prepping for business.

“A lot of people have walked into the shop thinking we are open,” said Kasey Kohler, manager of the highly anticipated Sunspot Cafe, which will officially open its doors today, March 8 at 8 a.m. “A lot of people have been coming in already, thinking it looks cool inside.  People have been waiting for this and we had to push the opening date back a few times due to building the fireplace.”

photos by andrew franciosa

The fireplace is symbolic of the labor of love that has gone into getting this place off the ground.  Kasey talked about how since it was such a huge project, one that the owner, Tom Genovese, took on himself, that after months of construction, it was clear the fireplace’s end result was reflective of the challenge.

The hand-built fireplace breaks up the room, separating the space between the focused dining area and the cozy black leather furniture designed for lounging.  The fireplace is effective, both heating the area and providing a homey, comfortable feel to the room.

“The visual location of the place is going to be key,” said Kasey.  “It was designed to make people feel at home, without the distractions of actually being at home and tending to things.”

The space on 212 Quail is an ideal location for a cafe, and there’s a lot of potential for the place.  The building used to be a storefront showroom for the business, Chapman Stain Glass Studio, but due to the nature of that industry (which is located next door to Sunspot) the demand for a storefront diminished and the idea of opening a cafe was pitched to the building’s owner.  One year and four months later, the cafe will open its doors.

The menu features a selection of breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, a variety of drinks both hot and cold and salads.  Kasey spoke with us about how the menu will incorporate variations within the context of cafe foods, mixing it up weekly with some regularly featured items.  There also was mention of a juice bar, which will be available in the summer months when produce will be fresh and will be purchased from local farmer’s markets.  There was an emphasis on supporting local businesses, and the staff of Sunspot is dedicated to making and prepping as much stuff in house as possible.  Also of mention is that there will be a variety of specific dietary options, such as gluten-free baked goods and select vegetarian (potentially vegan) options as well.  The cafe has an emphasis on being fairly health conscious and for one example does not own a fryer.  A recent graduate of New England Culinary School in Vermont, was a major player in developing the mediterranean inspired menu.

“We want to keep it moving,” said Kasey.  “When it’s the same thing at a cafe or any place for that matter, you can get bored of it. We don’t want that to happen here.”

Kasey also spoke of a weekly board game night and the cafe will also host an open mic in upcoming months.  Also in the works is getting a projector set-up to host old movies one night.  The space is designed for something like that, with an event going on in one section but not taking up the entire cafe, so people can still get work done while something is going on.  There are several book shelves built into the fireplace, stocked with vintage worn classics and other books.  The cafe, whose walls currently are home to the work of Jessyka Neitzel and Igor Rabovsky, will be showcasing different artists work in accordance with Albany’s First Friday.  They also aren’t opposed to having people playing acoustic guitar occasionally, and are planning on it, but with a relaxed rapport.  Another cutesy detail is the art decal of an accurate compass and sun design on the ceiling of one portion of the cafe.

With a few exceptions, majority of the staff is under the age of 24 and everyone I spoke to, especially the owner, had a go-with-it type of mindset.  The staff there will be both expecting and adapting to customer feedback in these first couple of months, as a new local business should.  The cafe will adjust its hours in accordance to business, with the idea of staying open later towards the end of the week if business calls for it.  The cafe will be open 7 days a week and is self-described as “a gothic, mediterranean, earthy-artsy refuge.”

Be on the lookout for specials on St. Patricks Day (and ugh, Kegs & Eggs), as well as for the infamous Tulip Fest.

You can view the menu online on their site and become a fan on the Sunspot Cafe Facebook Page.

If you’re passing by this week, stop in and post what you think of this new spot in the comments.

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