Indiana, PA - Indiana County

New downtown eatery to take place of shuttered cafe

by SAM KUSIC skusic@indianagazette.net on January 15, 2012 12:00 AM

Pastry fans, rejoice. At the Cozy Corner Cafe, you can have your Capitol roll and eat it, too.

Sweet, right?

The locally famous cinnamon roll hasn't been available since the place that made it, Indiana's Cafe 701, closed in November for what owner Kim McCombs has said were "personal reasons." However, the rolls are coming back when the eatery is rebooted next month.

Credit is due to husband and wife proprietors Craig Smith and Sheri Rellick-Smith, who are moving from San Diego to open Cozy Corner in Gatti Pharmacy along Philadelphia Street.

They haven't yet set a menu, but confirmed they'll be making the Capitol rolls.

Actually, Smith said, it's something of a tradition. His wife's grandfather baked the rolls and pies in the restaurant that first made them, the former Capitol Restaurant, which used to be along Philadelphia Street.

The Smiths said they stumbled into the opportunity while visiting Indiana at the time Cafe 701 closed.

Craig Smith said they were looking to move back to Indiana to be closer to family, and with their daughters in college, they decided this would be a good time to make a move.

The business isn't entirely foreign to them. They're a small-batch producer of gourmet sauces and salsas, which they sell under the label San Diego Sauce Co. The sauces are primarily sold into Whole Foods Markets in the San Diego area.

Smith said they intend to open Cozy Corner for breakfast and lunch, and may, down the road, offer light, carryout dinners.

He also said they intend to use local suppliers as much as possible.

Though the cafe is inside Gatti Pharmacy, it is an independently operated entity, under lease from the building's owner, David Smith.

His daughter, Stephanie Smith Cooney, president of Gatti Pharmacy, said she is glad a cafe is reopening in the pharmacy.

"I am very happy to welcome Craig and Sheri to downtown Indiana, and I think their concept of using local suppliers and natural ingredients will have a positive and delicious impact on our area," Smith Cooney said.

But as one Indiana cafe prepares to open, another has already closed.

Leslie Swentosky, owner of the Philly Street Cafe in the 700 block, which was known for its specialty sandwiches and salads, shuttered the business the first weekend of this month.

Swentosky said several factors -- high rent and utility bills were two reasons -- contributed to her decision, but the bottom line, she said, is simply that there weren't enough customers coming through the door.

Part of the reason she said is due to limited downtown parking and the borough's stringent parking meter enforcement.

"There are people who are afraid to drive downtown," she said.

Additionally, she said the downtown's hospitality market is saturated and that she probably had overestimated the number of downtown workers, who were to have formed the bulk of the customer base.

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