If you've been downtown during the lunch hour then you've undoubtedly witnessed the increased pulse of our fair city. Plop down on a bench with a sandwich and you can watch the law office couriers rush past you, or see the worker bees who have removed their cubicle shackles to take a walk and get some fresh air. You can almost forget that once 5 p.m. hits on a week day, downtown can start to feel a little empty.
We are all acutely aware that businesses are now trying to bring more people into the area. Downtown is currently in a state of transition. Historic landmarks, like the Sibley Building, are being renovated and repurposed to try to bring life to the streets beyond the 9-to-5.
One of those buildings, the landmark Academy Building (13 South Fitzhugh Street), has already changed numerous times in the past. Built in 1873, the building housed the first public high school in Rochester, and at different points included the Municipal Court and the Board of Education. The building is now the home to residential lofts, retail space, and The Founder's Café, which opened for business in May.
A colossal portrait of Nathaniel Rochester gazes over the cozy space — a small seating area to relax and enjoy a coffee and an assortment of tables for getting down on some grub. A shiny, red Cadillac of an espresso machine announces that this is a full-tilt coffee bar serving your standard cappuccino, latte, and other drinks available to satisfy your java fix.
The menu is geared towards the get in-get out lunchtime crowd, offering an assortment of panini, wraps, sandwiches, and salads that are available for either grab-and-go or to dine-in. The Carnivore panino ($8.45) features an impressive stack of Black Forest ham, smoked turkey, imported capicola, genoa salami, applewood smoked bacon, and aged New York cheddar. Both the chicken and tuna salads are made in-house. The Founders Chicken Salad ($7.25) is a crunchy concoction of marinated chicken breast, grapes, walnuts, celery, raisins, almonds and Fuji apple.
Why have only one type of cheese in your grilled cheese sandwich when you can have five? This is America, after all. The Artisan Five Cheese and Tomato panino ($7.25) ups the gooey factor with aged New York cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, and provolone, and includes some vine tomato so you can say you at least got one serving of fruit today.
Founders Café is located at 13 South Fitzhugh Street. It is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All menu items are under $10. For more information, call 770-1721 or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/FoundersCafe.
Also recently opened downtown is the Executive Café & Bakery (36 West Main Street), located in the Executive Office Building on the corner of Main and Fitzhugh. The café serves breakfast and lunch with an assortment of baked goods also available. Standouts on the lunch menu include a BBQ Salmon Wrap ($8.95), made with grilled North Atlantic salmon, house BBQ sauce, tomato, lettuce, and Bermuda onions. The shop's version of the chef salad, the Turin Chef ($8.95), adds strips of capicola ham to the standard turkey, greens, and hardboiled egg ingredients.
The baked goods menu includes homemade biscotti, monster cookies, cakes, and pies. Also listed is its version of the Cronut — the super-hyped love child of the croissant and the donut that was all the rage downstate over the last year. I was told they were not available yet but would be in the coming weeks. I will be back...oh yes...I will be back.
Executive Café & Bakery is located at 36 West Main Street. They are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. All menu items are under $10. For more information, call 471-8515.
Saki-it to me! The Bistro at Towpath Café (6 North Main Street, Fairport) has added a sake bar and is holding Happy Hour, Tuesdays through Fridays, 4 to 7 p.m., with drink specials and sake tastings. More information can be found on its website at towpathcafe.com.
The Inns of Aurora (391 Main Street, Aurora) will hold wine tasting events every other Wednesday through the summer. The July 16 event features a selection of wines from Ravines Wine Cellars. The tasting is held from 4 to 6 p.m. Call 315-364-8888 or visit their website at innsofaurora.com for more information.
Opening in July in the South Wedge neighborhood, ORBS Restaurant and Bar (758 South Avenue) will feature gourmet meatballs. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for updates on its grand opening.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to email@example.com.