Walk into Cafe Kubal, just three blocks from the corner of James and Midler, and you immediately know where you are. There is no other cafe like it, for where else will you find not only precisely these beans being roasted in this particular antique roaster, but also the work of The Craftsman, Ron Cosser, who carries on the artistry of Gustav Stickley, fronting the counter that holds your just- made cup of cappuccino? In addition to coffee drinks and teas at reasonable prices, you’ll also find Austrian- style pastries made with butter that’s flown in from Austria! Cafe Kubal is located in what’s commonly known as Sacred Melody Plaza, but the plaza recently got a new lease on life and is now officially the Eastwood Plaza.
Matt and Rachel Godard
It’s businesses like these that create a sense of place, that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging. We welcome businesses to Eastwood that are, whenever possible, locally owned and operated, for it’s the people from here who understand the needs of the people who live here.
Matt and Rachel Godard are the owners, employees, coffee gurus, and clean-up crew. In other words, they care deeply about every detail. An example noticed by a visiting customer: when Rachel chose a cookie from a stack for a customer, she picked one from under the top one, as the top one would be a shade dryer than the ones under it.
Another customer asked Matt, “How long do you roast the beans?”
Matt said, “Well, it depends on which bean it is, how high it was grown, the humidity, and so on. The longest roast is 45 minutes. The hottest is only for about 12 minutes.”
“How do know when it’s done?” the customer asked.
Matt just pointed to his nose with both hands and then to both his ears. He knows because he really knows his coffee. This is small-batch, artesanal coffee roasting, and Matt is a craftsman who lives and loves his product.
“It’s like when you make popcorn in the microwave. You listen for when the popping reaches a certain rate. The modern roasters have gauges and computers. I think they over-complicate things.”
Cafe Kubal was attracting all sorts of interesting people this morning. Steven Skinner, the owner of the plaza, stopped in to chat with us about the amazing series of events that was making his plaza bloom with businesses, including the True Value Hardware that moved in from down James St. He told us of the history of the plaza, the very first strip mall in the Syracuse area. He gave us pictures of the grand opening of the plaza back in 1953, and told us of more old pictures of the plaza that were found hidden in a wall in an Eastwood home until their discovery a few years ago. The cafe is in the old Merchants Bank space, so deep underneath it is a bank vault!
Another visitor to the cafe was The Craftsman, Ron Cosser. We had noticed the gorgeous wood front to the cafe’s counter. It had that Arts and Crafts look to it. Turns out Ron made it. After we finished our coffee and pastries, we went with him into the Parable Christian Store where you can see a fireplace surround that should be in the Everson Museum. Then we went to his workshop in the lower level of the plaza where he showed us around and regaled us with fascinating stories and his own, well-developed philosophies of work and life.
Folks, there isn’t enough room in this posting to go into a lot more detail about this man and his work. For now, we’ll let his gorgeous website do the talking.
Just remember, though: he carries on a tradition of fine craftsmanship that started in Eastwood with the workshop of Gustav Stickley. Uncompromising in his vision for making the highest quality furniture possible, Ron should be considered a national treasure. Let’s work on that. Ron Cosser, the Craftsman