A letter to our community from Owner Matt Godard regarding Cafe Kubal and the Syracuse Airport —
In late April of 2013, Syracuse Hancock Airport was renovated inside and out. Along with the building renovation, there was also an update to the vendor approach to feature local businesses from Central New York. Because of public demand and this new interest in local business, Airport Authority and the previous Syracuse Airport concessioner reached out to me. They asked if we could open a cafe inside of the new airport in time for the grand opening on May 13. The timing was very tight—almost impossible. But I was honoredand excited to be considered a suitable vendor to represent local Syracuse pride to the airport’s travelers. The opportunity to serve visitors a solid cup of coffee from a shop with local character was too good to pass up.
So, despite the seemingly impossible mission, together with a team of my Kubal staff and many local businesses, we delivered the KubalKiosk within 10 days. The beautiful cabinets were designed and crafted by Cab Fab. The sign shop we worked with (One Hour Budget Sign), the water filtration supplies (Kissane Water Conditioning), and the cafe supplies (Central Restaurant) are all right near our Eastwoodand Downtown neighborhoods.
10 days later, the Café Kubal airport kiosk was up and running right on time. Understand that the Kubal culture doesn’t just stop there; we provided plentiful training in barista skills and coffee education through our head barista, Chris Deferio, as well as equipment maintenance. We did this because we wanted travelers to be able to enjoy an authentic Kubal experience. Danielle Lewis, one of our SUbaristas, helped a lot at the airport last summer. She opened the kiosk at 4:30am almost every morning in time for the day’s first flights. She said she became pretty close with the workers there, and by the end of the summer, they expressed that they really enjoyed working for Café Kubal and REALLY appreciated our effort in making good coffee! Many of the pilots would come in between flights because they ended up loving our pour-overs!
While we were busy pouring our heart and soul into delivering quality service, the transition between concessioners was going on behind the scenes, and Café Kubal was not in the picture. The moment I learned about this news from syracuse.com, I quickly acted on it to protect the kiosk. I traveled down to New York City to meet with Creative Food Group and talked about the possibility of including Café Kubal in the transition, but they were only able to offer us a few self-served coffee pots at scattered locations in the airport even though that goes against our emphasis on the barista’s skill, human interaction, and hand crafted coffee.
During our last few months at the airport, the quality of our product suffered. We were not permitted to train the airport employees during the transition of the concessioner’s contract. As a result, the rigorous standards we hold ourselves to were not being met. For that, I would like to apologize. Our customers deserve the best we can give them, no matter what.
The significance of this started to hit me hard when I saw our supporters’ disappointment on social media. I’m sad that Syracusians didn’t get a chance to enjoy traveling with the coffee they love. It also saddens me that there is a lack of understanding of the impact of supporting local businesses. It was not a matter of who Café Kubalwas replaced by, but knowing so many followers’ hopes fell through. However, as long as we are roasting, brewing, and serving good coffee, someday, somewhere, there will be another opportunity for us, and we would really love to bring our coffee expertise to places where it’s appreciated!
We’re disappointed to be leaving the airport, but throughout this process, I’ve seen such an outpouring of support for Café Kubal. If there is one bright side to this situation, it is being reminded of the proud community we all share in Syracuse.