ALEXANDRIA BAY — Village residents took the opportunity to “wake up and cook” at a new cafe on James Street on Wednesday morning.
Wake & Bake Cafe in downtown Alexandria Bay opened its doors to customers for the first time, offering breakfast sandwiches, omelets, coffee, espresso and tea. In the former Kathy’s Coffee Pot storefront, owners Dave and Desiree Roberts are still putting the final details in place, including signage and a credit card machine.
It’s one of six businesses they’re starting or revitalizing in Alexandria Bay, including a gourmet restaurant, bar, classic pizzeria, juice bar, and gift shop.
“People say we’re crazy, but things are going great,” Ms Roberts said. “It’s a lot, and we are perfectly aware of it, but we have a great team. A big part of that is delegation at its finest.
The couple own the former Admirals’ Inn, which they are in the process of renovating and which will reopen in 1864, a gourmet restaurant. They own Skiff’s Bar, which will also reopen after the renovations are complete.
The Roberts own the Korner pizzeria and the Sunshack gift ship. All of their businesses are on or near James Street. Alex Bay Juice Co. is in a lime green building on Church Street, a few hundred yards away. They have purchased all of these businesses in the past six months and are working with a larger group of village residents who are working to rebuild and revitalize downtown Alexandria Bay.
“Things have been the same for so long,” Ms Roberts said. “We want to dress it up, make things a little nicer, make some changes to things.”
Mr Roberts said he and his wife are involved in nearly every aspect of their businesses – they pull espressos at Wake & Bake, pour beers at Skiff’s and sit at tables in 1864. As they go they build the businesses and renovate their buildings, they’ve been involved in most of the construction as well.
The Roberts have long been active residents of Alexandria Bay. Desiree and Dave have been real estate agents in the area for many years, and Dave’s parents are the former owners of the Aqua Zoo aquarium on Route 12. They said they wanted to improve the business scene in the village and recently found a way to work collaboratively with other business owners to make it all happen.
“It’s just a group of young people who are all like-minded,” Ms Roberts said. “We want to see the city grow.”
They said the local business community has been incredibly welcoming as they strive to open in time for the summer season. At Wake & Bake, they enlisted the former owners of Skiff’s Bar to help them program their cash register the day before it opened.
“The small-town look is very important, it’s special,” Roberts said.
Their plan is to play to each company’s strengths. Patrons of 1864 will be encouraged to enjoy a drink at Skiff’s or a dessert at Wake & Bake, and Mr Roberts said he was delighted to see downtown Alexandria Bay come to life as new businesses begin to welcome guests this season.