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Fiddlehead zeroes in on sustainability with the opening of its new downtown café

Fiddlehead zeroes in on sustainability with the opening of its new downtown café

After months of pouring blood, sweat and tears into their latest project, the team at Fiddlehead Coffee Company is ready to begin serving customers at their new café, located on the southeast edge of downtown Rochester.

Fiddlehead hosted a community blessing Wednesday night to christen the new space. The 2,700-square-foot café, which will offer up locally-produced beverages and food, is set to open to the public next week. (Update: the café is scheduled to open the morning of Tuesday, January 22.)

“This represents a culmination of things we have been trying to do for a long time,” said Sarah Phelan, co-owner of Fiddlehead.

The business, which got its start inside Forager Brewery, features its own in-house roastery, a state-of-the-art espresso machine, and a kitchen sourced with produce and protein from within a 200-mile radius of Rochester.

To underscore Fiddlehead’s commitment to sustainability, the café has added a full-time farmer, Kristin Pearson, to its team. The goal, according to co-owner Patrick Phelan, Sarah’s brother-in-law, is to grow what they can themselves while also working with as many local producers as possible.

“We want to create cuisine that is good for the earth, good for the consumer, and good for the community in which we operate,” said Patrick.

The food menu — which will change seasonally — will feature a variety of bowls, soups and sandwiches for lunch and shareable plates for dinner. Among the dishes from head chef Brandon Adams are a braised bison short-rib with pickled elderberries and a farm-raised shrimp and grits.

Additionally, to sweeten things up, Fiddlehead has brought on its own pastry chef, Sharon Su. From time to time, the business also plans to bring in featured chefs from near and far to take over the kitchen.

Beyond the confines of the café, the ownership team of Fiddlehead — which also includes Sean Phelan, Sarah’s husband, and Samantha Jackman, Partrick’s fiancée — plans to incorporate a social impact mission into their day-to-day operations. The team has already started to get involved with the Meals on Wheels program and has a goal to get down to zero food waste by taking leftovers and turning them into meal kits for those in need.

As Sarah put it, the Fiddlehead team sees coffee as having the potential to be a vehicle for building relationships and encouraging civic involvement.

“If we can just be the conduit for making communication happen in this town, face to face and otherwise,” she said, “that’s why we’re here.”

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