Ithaca Flower Shop is growing into a new city while a new business is simultaneously sprouting in the florists’ longtime Fall Creek storefront. Stacey Twigg, owner of Ithaca Flower Shop, will be re-branding the business as FLORISTRY – by Ithaca Flower Shop and relocating the main hub of operations to a new space in Cortland, New York. However, the shop will maintain a presence in Ithaca through a collaboration with the newest resident of the former Fall Creek Cinema building: Botanist Coffeehouse.
Owned by Matti Sgrecci, Botanist Coffeehouse will blend plants, flowers, coffee and tea to create a verdant oasis for horticulture and caffeine enthusiasts alike. Potted plants – many of which will be for sale – will fill the walls to create a lush, West Coast-inspired aesthetic. Twigg’s work area will be converted to the barista’s service counter, but guests will still be able to benefit from her green thumb with daily deliveries of pre-ordered arrangements. For those who don’t plan ahead, grab-and-go hand-tied bouquets will also be available.
The idea germinated last February, Sgrecci recounted.
“I’ve been kind of obsessed with coffee for many years,” Sgrecci said. “Stacey Twigg and I became acquainted when I worked with her on flowers for my wedding, about two and a half years ago. It was this like serendipitous thing where [Twigg] had been thinking about opening another space in Cortland - she actually lives in Cortland, she has kids, so she was hoping to somehow work closer to home - but she loves her space down in Fall Creek. I was in there one day and she said ‘don’t you think this would be an awesome place for a coffee shop?’”
Sgrecci was immediately on board. Sgrecci had spent her fair share of time behind the food service counter prior to diving into entrepreneurship: four years as a baker at Dolce Delight on Ithaca’s South Hill, followed by a more recent role as both a baker and barista at Coffee Mania in Cortland and Homer. She is using her experience in both of these roles to craft the food and drink menus at Botanist Coffeehouse.
The beverage menu at Botanist Coffeehouse will include coffee, espresso, tea, specialty drinks such as turmeric lattes and matcha, and carbonated beverages including kombucha and seltzer.
“All of our coffee and espresso is going to be brewed from Coffee Mania roasted beans, which I’m really excited about because they sell bags of beans at GreenStar and P&C and a couple of other places, but there’s nowhere in Ithaca right now that actually brews them. We’re actually creating a house blend with them that’s going to be unique to us,” Sgrecci said.
Coffee Mania is owned by Michelle and Craig Brooks, who opened the business as a drive-thru coffee in 1999 and recently celebrated their 20th year in business. They now have three locations, and in 2006, they began roasting their own beans.
Though Sgrecci only worked for Coffee Mani for a year before pursuing her own endeavor, there is clear mutual respect between both coffee shop owners. Twigg had initially approached the Brooks about opening a Coffee Mania location in the space, but knowing that Sgrecci was interested in doing so herself, they instead encouraged the two to chat.
“Our mission statement is to brew the best damn coffee that money can buy and serve it with a smile on our face and love in our hearts, which is what we look for when we go to hire someone for Coffee Mania,” said Coffee Mania Co-Owner Craig Brooks. “You have to have love in your heart, and it was very clear that Matti fit that precisely. She’s just full of energy, super smart and very friendly.”
The house blend represents the second major business-to-business collaboration integrated into Botanist’s opening.
“She’s come to us on a weekly basis, and we’ve been roasting coffee special for her,” Brooks said. “She’s been very dedicated to finding just the right fit for what she wants. It’s going to be a little different than anything that we have to offer in our stores so it’s super exciting.”
Another product Botanist will be introducing to the Ithaca market is local kombucha from Food & Ferments of Truxton, New York. Food & Ferments is owned by Carly and Dave Dougherty and specializes in live cultured food and drink with flagship products including sauerkraut and kimchi.
“Carly and I are actually both from Truxton originally, and I just recently reconnected with her,” Sgrecci said “They’re not yet offering wholesale kombucha, but they are planning to be by the summer.”
Finally, Sgrecci will use her background as a baker to prepare baked snacks and desserts to round out the café’s offerings. As with many new businesses, she anticipates the menu may expand over time in response to customer feedback and habits.
She hopes that both residents and commuters will visit the shop, noting that in addition to being walkable from the downtown core, the building in which Botanist is located has 100 available parking spots. The projected opening is mid-February 2020. Updates will be posted to Instagram at @botanistcoffeehouse.
Ultimately, Sgrecci and Twigg hope to create a serene atmosphere that is welcoming and accessible to anyone who steps through the door. They envision customers relaxing on the patio in warmer months or surrounded by greenery indoors when the weather is cool.
“For both of us, coffee’s a daily necessity, but it’s also very much a ritual,” Sgrecci said. “We wanted to build this space that was not quite as hectic as you might normally experience.”
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