Round House Cafe: Saving Community
We are Scott and Lisa Carrino, co-owners of the Round House Bakery Café , located in a small upstate Washington County New York town called Cambridge. Like so many other small towns and people in rural America, our town seems to have been forgotten in the rush to enrich the big corporations seeking to join the global economy.We started this venture in 2010 as a bakery on our Pompanuck Farm, a not-for-profit arts and education center in the foothills above the village that has run programs for underserved communities of children and adults since our founding in 1991. ( www.pompanuck.org )
In 2013, we were urged by many people in the town to re-open the local café that had been shuttered and vacant since 2005. We did not have the capital to begin a project like that, but we took a leap of faith, using our credit cards to purchase the equipment and ingredients we needed. People from the community raised whatever amount they could to give us a $10,000 loan to help us get started. It was an unnerving way to start, but also a beautiful way to start.
Our cafe was important to the town then, it is more important than ever now. You can just feel the town's heartbeat in our cafe.
We opened the Round House Bakery Café on April 3, 2013. We have been successful by every standard but one: we don’t own our own building. And it is now up for sale. One writer called the café the “soul of the town.” It has not been easy, but we have kept to our intentions and provided the best food and atmosphere possible, using local farmers and producers as much as we can and growing many of the vegetables at Pompanuck Farm in our short growing season.
We started our café three years ago partly on the basis of our reputation as good bakers and cooks. For many years, we have also been supporters and hosts of many community gatherings at Pompanuck Farm and lives have been about supporting the community of Cambridge through volunteering our time and energy, by contributing to the many good causes in our community, and by offering our skills to many people and organizations that support our small community.
We have created employment for many people -young and older. We purchase many of our ingredients from small local farmers and producers. We support local sports teams and church and civic groups doing good work - as many people in our small town do. We believe we have succeeded as a business, but the economics of operating a business in a small town is never simple. Our cafe has yet to make enough profit to purchase the building we have been renting - something we thought we would be able to accomplish a few years from now.
We learned recently that we don't have a few years.
Our landlord, Bill, has our building on the market - a “For Sale” sign is going up this week. He needs to sell now, for very good reasons of his own. We want you to know that Bill bent over backwards to get us into the building - by offering us an initial rent that was affordable to us as an under-funded start up, and by turning down other businesses that wanted to rent his beautiful building - but who wanted to change the use of building away from the cafe that Bill had renovated and ran from 2000-2005. The community loved "BeanHeads" and we were all sad when Bill needed to and chose to close it down.
We need to buy our building now if our café is to remain alive and serve our community -as we have been since our opening day. We have been urged to turn, as so many others have, to crowdsourcing for help.
Cambridge has already lost its independent pharmacy, its small community-based hospital and several of the large business and factories that kept many of our towns people employed.
Most of the good jobs have gone. Many of the good people have stayed. They deserve a place to eat and gather. A group of small businesses have emerged to be a viable center of commerce. We are one of these businesses.
The people here are rallying to help us, but we need to raise $75,000 as a down payment to buy our building and ensure our future. We need to reach beyond our town to help our town. We are not a wealthy community and there are not a lot of us. We need your help. Please contribute if you can. No amount is too small - $5 is as important to us as $1,000.
And yes, there is a message here, and it is this:
We all matter in America, small towns and big ones, chain stores and small cafes.
All of our political campaigners are telling us that people are still important and so is community, but what are they really doing about it? We are doing something about it.
The economists and politicians have abandoned us, we are no longer considered big enough or efficient enough to have a place in the new world order of "big, bigger, biggest". At Round House Bakery Café, we have been proving them wrong for three years, and with your help, we can prove them wrong for much longer. Please help us to show that people and community really matter.
We did not start this cafe to get rich – there is no chance of that. We love people, we love community, we love this Earth, and we love making good and healthy food.
“I am a strong supporter of small local businesses and have to say, The Round House is at the top of my list. I enjoy their wonderful products and cheerful friendly atmosphere. When you are there relaxing and experiencing the wonderful food you often see Scott not only in the kitchen but serving and clearing tables, he does it all. I enjoy how he always has a moment for a smile, kind word and a thank you no matter how busy he is. This is an absolute must to help them stay where the belong and continue enhancing the great little village of Cambridge. Even though I am a Vermonter living just over the line in Arlington, I love visiting the Round House when in town. I will be making a contribution to support this gem in your community and I hope others will see the importance of this worth while cause as well. Best of luck to you all at the Round House for many years to come where you belong on Main Street.” ~Robert J Waibel Facebook post 3/21/16
Imagine looking for a place to eat a good meal while driving though a small rural village, surrounded by beautiful farmland – a quaint but quiet town. You are not expecting to find much here. You come across the Round House Bakery Café and come inside. It is one of the few places in the village of Cambridge, N.Y. that offers healthy fresh food - seven days a week. The café is located in a nineteenth century brick building that was once the town bank. It is historically elegant inside, and you may notice that there are original paintings on the walls by a local artist. The art changes every month or so.
We are a community café. Artists show and sell their work here, musicians come here every week to play and put out their tip cans. Students from the high school meet here and plan their plays and sporting events. Some work here before they go to college or to find permanent jobs in their chosen careers.
A disabled man comes every day for his coffee and a cookie, and to get warm. The town’s three-person Buddhist club meets every week for lunch, as do church groups. A town pastor brings his band to the café and sings his music. Friends gather for lunch. Three elderly women meet twice a week to make plans for staying active and helping the town in any ways they can.
Writers and businessmen and women bring their laptops and do their work here in between the breakfast and lunch crowd. Sunday brunch has become a staple of life for many people in our town, they come each Sunday at 10 a.m. for crepes, quiche, fresh fruit and good coffee, the kind of wonderful foods we make fresh every day. On Friday nights, local bands come and play. Once a month, on open mic nights, the old and the young come to read their poems, sing their songs, share their stories.
Franchise food outlets are sprouting up everywhere, but community is fading (almost) everywhere.
All over the country, small towns have seen their community institutions and businesses overwhelmed and destroyed by corporatization, globalization and box and chain stores. We have struggled also, but we have persisted, and until now, prevailed. But we need to buy our wonderful building, right in the center of town, if we are to succeed.
For us, this is a crossroads. Community got us started, and we believe the power of community will preserve us. Our landlord is in a rush to sell our building and the “For Sale” signs are going up. We cannot afford to buy the building on our own. Our initial debt - to get the business started - has left us without additional resources. We need to buy our building.
We can then stand on our own.
Why should you help us? It’s a personal question, and only you can really answer it for yourselves.
We need to keep community alive in America, and support and defend it whenever it is threatened. Crowdsourcing sites like Gofundme have given us new tools to do that, to bypass the politicians and economists who seem to only think in terms of profit, and have forgotten what people are for.
We believe we know what people are for, and that is why we started the Round House Bakery Café and that is why we are going to fight to preserve it and make it safe. We have lost enough community in America, it is time to honor community and keep it alive. And to fight for it here in Cambridge. Without community, something important is lost. Community is the fabric that binds people together.
We hope you can help us in whatever amount seems right and comfortable for you. And thanks for considering us and reading this far, we appreciate it and will keep you posted and updated.
Friends, this is the press release that will go out tomorrow (Monday, February 27). We wanted you, our friends and supporters, to hear it here first. Again, and again - Thank You!
ROUND HOUSE BAKERY CAFÉ TO MOVE INTO THE HUBBARD HALL OPERA HOUSE
Hubbard Hall Center For the Arts and Education and Round House Bakery Cafe
Announce New Partnership to Keep Main Street Vibrant
(Cambridge, NY February 27, 2017) Today, Hubbard Hall and the Round House Bakery Café announced that, as of April, 2017, Round House Bakery Café will re-open and operate in the storefront of Hubbard Hall at 25 East Main St. in Cambridge, NY.
The Round House Bakery Cafe is currently located at Washington and Main St. in Cambridge in a building that is currently up for sale. After much consideration, Round House owners Lisa and Scott Carrino felt the move into Hubbard Hall made the most sense for their business and community. The move also serves the Hall’s goals of supporting business on Main Street and offering its customers an even better experience at the Hall.
“Having Round House Bakery Café in the Hall will be such a wonderful addition to all the ways we serve our community,” said Hubbard Hall Executive & Artistic Director David Snider. “From pre-show dinners to after-show drinks and desserts, the presence of Round House will be a boon for our audiences and our students. And the community will be better able to stay connected with all that we do here on the Hubbard Hall campus.”
When Round House’s current building was put up for sale, a GoFundMe campaign was launched, which raised almost $75,000 towards a down payment . Upon further research/reflection, however, it became clear to Lisa and Scott that the purchase of this property would not be the best move for the business. They explored other options, including the closure of the café and shifting their focus entirely to their bakery at Pompanuck.The move into Hubbard Hall will provide a financially sustainable way to keep the business on Main street, with greater support and opportunities to grow, including chances to partner with the Hall to train, mentor and hire local youth in the café business.
The funds raised will be used to grow and equip the café to better serve customers going forward.
"We are both very excited to have the opportunity to start a bright new chapter for our business in the heart of our community in Hubbard Hall - a vital part of our community that we know and love," said Round House Bakery Café co-owner Scott Carrino. "The move of our Cafe to the Hubbard Hall building serves a number of creative purposes for our business and to Hubbard Hall's programming. The space is a good fit for our cafe.
“We’ll have twice the kitchen space with a real stove and proper storage,” said co-owner Lisa Carrino. “We will have more seating and the possibility to have a refrigerated pastry case and more shelving to present our baked goods and retail offerings in a way that we cannot in our present location. Our relationship with Hubbard Hall will be strengthened in a way that we have always envisioned and can now manifest more easily. We look forward to offering Hall audience members meals and refreshments before and after shows. Having an active and popular cafe on site will bring much more foot traffic right into the heart of the Hall. We see this as a benefit to the Hall as much as it is to us"
The Hubbard Hall Box Office and information center will continue to operate in the front of the café space. Round House Bakery Café will rent the space from Hubbard Hall, with the Hall and the Café partnering to support each other’s growth with complimentary programming and café offerings.
About Round House Bakery Café
Round House Bakery began as a project of Pompanuck Farm, a 501c3 not-for-profit educational center managed by Scott and Lisa Carrino since 1991. The Carrinos spent much of the past 25 years in the Round House kitchen preparing meals for people who visited the farm to attend classes, workshops, and musical events. People loved the food which was mostly sourced from the farm and local producers. Visitors to Pompanuck Farm and workshop participants enjoyed the process of making bread and pizzas in the woodfired oven located in the center of the Round House. This is where Round House Bakery was born. Starting small with their personal longtime specialties - Lisa with cakes, cookies, and pastries and Scott with wholesome breads and pizzas - they sold their goods at Farmer’s Markets and small local businesses including the Cambridge Food Co-op. In 2010 they built a full scale commercial kitchen and were incorporated as a bakery. In 2013 they reopened a long - shuttered coffee house in the Village of Cambridge as Round House Bakery Cafe. The Carrinos and their staff provide the same kind of healthy fresh meals and community ambiance in the village as they did in the country. Both Carrinos grew up in homes where cooking happened every day, in families that valued the importance of shared meals. They believe that the dining table is a democratic arena where people can meet, converse, work, or read the newspaper in a safe, welcoming, environment while enjoying a meal that they know was sourced as locally as possible and prepared with honesty, health and good taste. For the Carrinos, coming to Hubbard Hall feels like coming home and home is where the good food is - at 25 East Main St. in the Spring of 2017! www.roundhousebakery.com and www.pompanuck.org. 518.677.2233 and 518.677.8121
About Hubbard Hall
Since 1878 Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education has developed, produced, and presented theater, music, opera, dance and the visual arts. From 19th century vaudeville and traveling troupes performing Shakespeare to today’s newest developing artists, the Hall has long been a home for theater, opera, dance and music and in recent years has developed into a world-class development center for new work. As a training ground for both young and seasoned artists, Hubbard Hall continues to develop a new generation of artists and audiences while providing opportunities for individuals to take new risks and grow beyond their comfort zone. Through classes in dance, theater, music, movement, puppetry, fencing and even gardening, Hubbard Hall gives students of all ages an opportunity to learn, collaborate and grow. By offering arts education programming in schools and throughout our region, we connect more deeply with our community and give students throughout the region the opportunity to learn and grow through the arts. Hubbard Hall operates four buildings, including its original 1878 opera house and three recently renovated freight yard buildings containing dance, music and visual arts studios, offices, arts exhibit spaces and a black box theater. Hubbard Hall is located at 25 East Main Street in Cambridge, NY. For more information on this and all Hubbard Hall programs, or to purchase tickets, register for classes, make a donation and/or become a Hubbard Hall Pass carrier please visit www.hubbardhall.org or call (518) 677-2495.
Round House Go Fund Me Project
Friends, I’m writing you to tell you some good and important news. The Round House Bakery Cafe will stay in our community and move to a bigger and better space close by.
This could not have happened without you. Our work and search and negotiations have been so intense than I really did not know what to tell you, while we've been in this process.
I do now.
As many of you know, we tried again and again, but could not reach an agreement to buy our building from the landlord, nor would a bank agree to give us a mortgage. We just aren’t big enough.
For the past months, we have been working hard to make sure the café stays in our town, that our community does not further erode. You and the people who live around here have rallied to support us, and that has given us the strength and focus to push on. We are glad we didn’t give up.
Your support has bought us the time and the means to reach what we think is a very joyous moment.
We are nearing an agreement to move into a wonderful place in the heart of our town. It will offer greater kitchen space, dining space and display for our baked goods and art. It will be more efficient and less costly.
The funds you sent us will go towards the renovation and restoration necessary for us to make this move , it is a beautiful and and historic space.
In the next few days, we expect to formalize the details of the move, and then I will be able to fully disclose the location and details. Just a few more days at most.
There is a lot of work to be done. We will need to build a new fireproof ceiling, expand and furnish a new and full kitchen, completely rewire the electrical system, install a restroom and make other changes. We will have the opportunity to offer some creative and beautiful retail items and to host regular music and community events.
None of this would be possible if not for your commitment to the idea of community. Lisa and I thank you.
Here, as in many small and rural towns, we have lost enough. We aren’t going anywhere. I believe we have won a real victory for community, hopefully an inspiration to others. We don’t have to disappear in the face of online shopping or the big box srores.
We hope to formally announce this move in the next few days, once the details have been looked over by lawyers.
Again, we are so grateful to all of you. Stay tuned!
Jim, This is a good question as well, but I think a better one might be: Why would a new landlord keep us in this building? Why wouldn't he or she want to put their own cafe in their own building? And why not put a Subway or a Starbucks, or another chain shop in this lovely building - all while sending profits out of the community and into corporate headquarters far from here? You might think it unlikely that a chain shop might open in a small town such as ours, but we see it all around us (there is already a Subway in town) These jobs are low-paying and the benefits to the community are few. I guess the point is that we have invested in our community for the three decades we have been here and in this building since our opening and we want to stay here, right where our business is and belongs. And our community wants us to as well. So, a new landlord gives us no more security to stay in business or in this building than we have now. Our community wants us to stay here and they and many others have made personal choices to support this effort. Others have made the personal choice not to. We are fine with both, as personal choices are just that - personal. As to your thought that this is not a good business practice... We have been advised, from the beginning, that it is good business sense to own your own building- for the security of and investment in its future. We are not asking people to buy the building for us, just to help us get to the point where we can approach the bank for a mortgage, with a sound down payment. Opening a cafe in this or any small rural village may not be sound business thinking or practice at all. It is too hard and exhausting and the hours are like those of the farmers who feed us - long and constant. But when you have a dream - to support and enliven community in your town, bring good jobs and good food to your community - in a great environment to gather, meet, sing, and show artist's artwork - good business sense is just a part of the equation. Passion and hard work, and involvement and dedication to your local community, and faith that you may succeed -is without question just as important and certainly, a must. Again, we appreciate your questions and the opportunity to respond as best we can. We wish you the best, ~Scott
Why won't a new landlord want you to be a renter? Doesn't seem to be a demand in Cambridge for business space so I think you'd be safe for awhile. So your old landlord is going to throw you out if he doesn't sell the building to you? Just doesn't make sense or sound like good business practices to me. Jim
Scott, Thanks for the additional info. My only additional comment would be are you sure you want to buy that building? Don't get me wrong but wouldn't a long term lease be better than being saddled with an old building in not quite prosperous town? I should know as I own one or two of them!!! Good luck and I'll shut up now.
Hello Jack, Thanks for your question. Our landlord, Bill, has done all he can to help us by giving us time to build our business. He has recently retired and wants to simplify by selling his building. We do not blame him at all. He has waited long enough for us to purchase the building - our intention from since we started this cafe- our labor of love. Our business has succeeded in many ways, but not enough to set into motion our purchase in a timely fashion. We want and need to honor Bill's wishes and now is the time. Hence, our appeal. People make thier own perosnal choice whether to support this appeal or not. We do not question people's personal choices. Thanks for asking and we hope this helps.
I stumbled upon this, as a way of learning in the need to start my own gofundme campaign with the Town of Hoosick taxing our church. And I am compelled to comment here. I met these people back when I was attempting to sell Aflac. And though their employees weren't interested in the program, I found these owners to really care for their employees. I've eaten the wonderful food they serve and saw both their restaurant and the property where they keep their bakery. These employers are incredibly nice people running a wonderful establishment in a beautiful town called Cambridge. They may not remember me, but they earned my respect. And I hope their message resonates with a lot of people.
Hey Jim, Yes, this is a concern for us, but our building is on the block in our village that most of the buildings were purchased and renovated by a community organization as an /theatre/ educational/art center a number of years agp - and we envision our building one day being a part of this . We are thinking of many options about how to make this possible. Thanks again and good luck to you, as well. We appreciate your comments and the opportunity to respond. We value these interchanges. Take care and enjoy this Spring!
Hope you guys survive n' thrive! I think fondly back to my summer at Pompanuck often...Such a peaceful and enjoyable time.
I would like to print a poster (using the "POSTER" link above this comment section) to show/distribute at my organization's next meeting. Would that be OK?
Thank you, all , who have supported our effort by commenting and donating with such generosity and spirit. We are deeply grateful for your efforts and support. To our Anonymous donors, we thank you for your generous assistance and good will...
Maria,Thank you so much! Our address is 1 Washington Street, Cambridge, NY 12816. Again, thanks for your support and kindness.
send me address and I will send a check