Rochesterians will be either excited or exhausted to learn that yet another coffee establishment is making its way to downtown. The new caf e, owned communally but operated by local coffee-loving entrepreneur Astrid Fitzgerald, 31, will open later this month at 45 Chestnut St. in what used to be the iconic Hotel Cadillac.
Although the Hotel Cadillac never burned down, a beautiful caffeinated phoenix is about to rise from the ashes of what was formerly the go-to venue for Rochester pimps, drug dealers, prostitutes and cockroaches, all of whom could rent rooms by the hour. After the infamous establishment was finally condemned last April due to egregious violations of health and ethical codes, Fitzgerald jumped at the chance to breathe new life into the eight-story Rochester landmark.
“Gentrification has always been a passion of mine,” Fitzgerald said. “I can’t get enough of spreading beautiful aspects of my lifestyle, such as my fiance’s waxed moustache, to less fortunate areas.”
The new coffee shop’s name is still up in the air. Fitzgerald, inspired by Rochester serial killer Arthur Shawcross, also known as the “Genesee River Strangler,” is currently deciding between several anagrams of the murderer’s name.
“I’m still torn between ‘Chars Art/Rush Sow’ and ‘Arch Ass Hurt Rows.’ I just think having that reference to Arthur Shawcross would add an extra level of quirk that customers will find really appealing. I read on RocWiki that he used to camp out at the Hotel Cadillac before murdering all those prostitutes, and I like that edginess,” she explained.
Whatever the cafe’s name will be, it is sure to offer a truly unique coffee-drinking experience to its patrons. The building, which has been renovated extensively, now features a massive French press that extends from the ground floor all the way up to the seventh story. Thirty feet in diameter, this aquarium-sized contraption brews only the finest coffee beans, all of which are grown on the premises—in a greenhouse in the basement. The coffee is then served in drinking vessels similar to standard Mason jars, but they are handblown by ninth-generation Amish glassblowers who live on the eighth floor. The glassblowers also tend to the shop’s three Himalayan goats, who produce a delicious soft cheese as an alternative to coffee creamer and soymilk.
The renovations of course included a fresh coat of paint, but Fitzgerald hopes that customers will soon cover the walls with DIY graffiti and plans to provide a pack of oil pastels with every cup of coffee.
“I removed all the colors from the pastel sets that might clash with our Tibetan prayer flags and the portrait of Ayn Rand we got Banksy to stencil on the back wall,” Fitzgerald said, noting that the enigmatic artist is a good friend. Other design features that will certainly draw customers into the shop include triangular entryways, a shrine to Morrissey and numerous oil lamps.
Before flocking to the restaurant, potential patrons should know a few things. First of all, coffee is served by appointment only. Reservations are made only after a formal request has been sent to 45 Chestnut via carrier pigeon, and missives with wax seals receive preference. The shop will also enforce a strict dress code, the specifics of which will rotate on a biweekly basis, ranging from mandatory Birkenstocks to septum piercings.
The cost of a cup of coffee at the new shop is also variable. In the spirit of the Kickstarter campaign Fitzgerald used to fund the café’s opening, customers can name their price for whatever they purchase. It is important to note, however, that the cafe accepts cash only, and prefers two-dollar bills.
For anyone interested in learning more information on the new coffee shop, Fitzgerald recommends “[keeping] your eyes peeled and pointed at the night sky. We’re going to send up flare signals to announce the official opening date.”
McNameeKing is a member of
the class of 2015.