Archive | February, 2012

A Glimpse at the Origins

4 Feb

King Ferry, NY

Lizzie’s Cafe refers to a once in a lifetime opportunity I had in Central New York to open my own cafe/bakery.  I was twenty three years old, one year out of college, working as a substitute teacher, and for a ceramic artist, and on an organic farm, while raising my four-year old son.

A certain series of events and particular circumstances led to the opportunity to fulfill a long-time dream.  I could never in any amount of space describe what happened as it was exactly, but in short, I was helping the artist Michael Rubenstein move his studio from one of the landlords’ properties to another, when a restaurant located next to the new studio was purportedly closing.  Within one month, after deciding to rent it, I had cleaned it up, moved in, and started business.

It would take about 300 pages to accurately describe the details of the previous sentence, not to mention, another 500 to tell the rest of the story, so I will leave it for another writing endeavor.  Instead, I’ll put up some pictures.


All I can say is it could not have been as successful as it was in the beginning without Sarah.  One brain, two bodies, same wavelength.  Everything we did was perfectly complementary.  If I did muffins, cookies, cakes, and sweet rolls, she was doing dinner rolls, brownies, pies, and sticky buns.

I was scheduled for the soft opening on August 15th, 2007 but I had to push the day back to the 16th or 17th.  We cooked and prepped for almost 48 hours straight.

Our very first customers, as promised, were Anton, Laurie, and the gang from Early Morning Farm.  I was in a state of shock, and I’m sure it was not our best performance as we served up blueberry whole wheat pancakes and merry berry pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns and such, coming out at all different times, taking probably a half hour or more to get it all out there.

I’ve never felt the pressure like I did on those days, neither eating nor sleeping.  I was so hungry at one point, I started consuming spoonfuls of raw zucchini muffin batter.  I actually gave myself food poisoning and was in fetal position on the bakery floor, not sure if I could run the place on the second day.  With pain as bad labor cramps, I just did it.

Early publicity.

Everything was always fresh, homemade, and delicious.  The menu was extensive in the beginning, items were way under-priced, and impossible to sustain once the season slowed and Sarah left for school.  We got quite a reputation for the homemade bread, which I had to start making myself when Sarah had to go back full-time.  We made white, wheat, rye, raisin, cheese, and various focaccias.  This is, for the most part, the menu:

Lizzy’s Cafe Menu and Bakery

If it was not for certain influential and supportive people, this never would have happened.  My sister, mom and dad, my family from Ohio who came all the way there for a visit and helped me scrub and polish for hours, landlords Bill and Cheryl Heary, Mike Rubenstein, dedicated staff and volunteers, namely Eileen Welsh, Pat and Lizzy Mills, JoAnn Davis, Gene Toby, and all of my loyal and kind customers, made this dream come true.

Memory Collage

I am so lucky.  Many generous, loving, inspiring people have left their impression on me.  I am grateful for all of the amazing experiences, as well as those that were horrid, I’ve ever had, and I hope I can use my experience to influence and inspire others as I live each day.  Peace!