This issue of Kubal Newsletter is Local Spotlight — featuring two of our favorite local businesses!
Lombardi Leather—with a new burlap tote design available in March!
Lombardi Leather got its start in Francis Lombardi’s barn studio in Skaneateles just a few years ago, with Francis pursuing his idea for a sleek buckle-less belt. The belt (pictured below) has become Lombardi Leather’s signature piece. Lombardi also designed several sturdy, well-lined wine totes at the time, and has since added a full line of bracelets, key fobs, and many custom items.
Helped along by a very successful Kickstarter campaign, in which Lombardi Leather raised $52,000 in six days, Lombardi was able to move production to a beautiful sky-lighted studio in Armory Square. The move was key for two reasons, Lombardi says: first, he wanted to be closer to the craftspeople he hires. He does a lot of work with the Catholic Charities, and he is able to offer fairly paid artisan work to refugees in the program. Being in the heart of downtown makes the business more accessible to the workers and to customers alike.
The second reason behind the move was Armory Square’s proximity to Syracuse University’s School of Fashion. Four students in the program have already taken advantage of internship opportunities with Lombardi, learning everything from design and fabrication to stitching and trade. Lombardi is self-taught in leather crafting, and he has a history of successful entrepreneurship as well. There is a lot students can learn here during even a short internship.
As you might imagine, our roastery is full of burlap sacks from the massive quantities of beans we import every week. What does one do with all that burlap? Lombardi Leather has designed a tote bag from these burlap sacks, leaving the original branding marks on each one. These logos attest to the authenticity of each sack and lend unique, colorful accents to every bag. The totes are lined with an unassuming green-khaki canvas, which provides them a sturdy, protected interior and lends more structure to the bags overall. The handles and trim are made from custom-crafted leather and finish the bag’s look beautifully.
The dimensions of the tote are 18”x13”x6”, with an 11.5” handle, making it easy to wear over the shoulder or carry by hand. These bags are very versatile—big enough to fill with produce and goodies from the farmer’s market, but still small enough to use every day in comfort and style. The burlap is hardy for winter, but also light and airy for bringing along on summer outings. You’ll love these totes as soon as you see them, and you’ll be supporting another local business if you purchase one!
The Taste of Ukraine — Kava Café’s Grand Opening!
Syracuse is known for its active Italian and Irish communities, but many of us probably don’t know about the vibrant Ukrainian community that is located on the west side of the city. Starting March 8, though, there will be even more ways for Syracusans to experience the savory and sweet flavors of Ukrainian cuisine (and enjoy Kubal coffee at the same time)!
Kava’s Beginnings—European Specialties
In 1989, the Gerasimovich family came to the United State from Ukraine with six children. One of them was a 7-year-old boy named Vito, and another was a 9-month-old girl named Vera. Vito and Vera are the founders of Kava and its heart and soul, but their siblings’ earlier business venture paved the way for this new enterprise.
In 1995, the family opened “European Specialties,” a store that carries imported goods from all over Eastern Europe, in part because they found the foods were a cure for their own homesickness. In order to let people taste the goods that they sold, they started offering samples. It didn’t take long for them to realize they needed a café where they could showcase the specialty items they offered and demonstrate all the different ways the foods could be prepared. Thus, the idea for Kava was born.
Kava’s savory menu is put together by the family and other cooks who have plenty of restaurant experience from their time in Ukraine. Kava offers gourmet sandwiches, pierogies, potato pancakes, and paninis, but you should make sure to try their signature item — Golumbki (beef and vegetables wrapped in cabbage). Ukrainian baked goods are distinct in that the cakes are more dense than fluffy, and have multiple layers of rich fillings, such as nuts, preserves, or chocolate. Each menu item offers an excellent combination of flavors and textures. Check out their reviews: customers rave about every delectable treat!
The Coffee Connection
“Kava” in Ukrainian simply means “coffee.” Vito, the owner of Kava, began to research wholesale coffee, and Café Kubal came up as an obvious choice. Kava’s manager, Vera, recalled her first visit to the Eastwood Café Kubal a few years ago. She really enjoyed the pour-over coffee she had and wished something like that was available on their side of the town. Soon after, Vito and Vera reached out to Café Kubal, and our wholesale team quickly set up their coffee brewing equipment and helped define some best practices for a small business similar to Café Kubal. We also provided training for theirbaristas, sharing our honed skills and standards of excellence for coffee preparation. Kava, then, is the only place other than CaféKubal to get a truly superb cup of specialty coffee in Syracuse
Grand Opening Details and Offers
Vito and Vera relish the diversity of their background and deeply appreciate both the Ukrainian and American aspects of their upbringing. Having grown up in Syracuse, they are also devoted to giving back to the local community. Through Kava, they hope to introduce Syracuse to the authentic tastes of Ukrainian cuisine and establish deeper connections between the Ukrainian community and the city of Syracuse. It is with all this in mind that they extend a very warm invitation to Kava’s Grand Opening on Saturday, March, 8th from 10-3pm! There will be door prizes and free coffee, and if you bring a nonperishable food time to be donated to Food Bank of CNY, you’ll get a free, homemade, delicious pastry! See you there!