Salt City Coffee opens new location on Marshall Street

Salt City Coffee opens on Marshall Street

The local specialty coffee shop has filled the space left vacant by Café Kubal.
Published: March 26, 2021
Gianna Prudente
Inside Salt City Coffee’s new location on Syracuse University’s campus, customers are greeted by an LED sign reading “Salt City Coffee.”

Syracuse’s local specialty coffee shop Salt City Coffee opened its third location earlier this month—this time in Syracuse University’s Marshall Square Mall. Salt City Coffee now occupies the space next to the Rescue Mission’s 3fifteen thrift store, which previously held Café Kubal.

In August, the Rescue Mission approached Salt City Coffee owners Maria and Aaron Metthe about opening a location on SU’s campus.

“We kind of dreamed of doing it, but the rent is really high, and there’s really not a lot of space,” Maria said.

At the time, the Metthe’s were focused on opening their second location, Salt City Bar.

“It just kind of fell in our lap where the Rescue Mission kept approaching us,” she said. “We kind of toured it three or four times and said, ‘We’re crazy, let’s just do it.’”

Corey Kociela, chief of staff at the Rescue Mission, said the organization was looking for a tenant to take over their vacant space after Café Kubal left last April. The Rescue Mission advertised the space and entertained different offers, Kociela said. They eventually approached Aaron and Maria, asking them if they would consider opening another location.

“They thought it was a good opportunity for them. We thought it was a good opportunity for us because they’re a supporter of the Rescue Mission,” Kociela said. “It just became a good partnership. Hopefully they’re going to be with us for the next couple of years.”

Kociela said the Rescue Mission approached the Metthe’s partly because of Salt City Coffee’s success at its main location.

“It just made sense that because they’re well established on West Onondaga Street—they do a great business there—that why not partner with them up on the hill,” he said.

With Salt City Bar just opening, Maria said she and her husband felt crazy to open two shops within a month during the pandemic, especially when numbers are lower.

“You can’t do a grand opening,” she said. “We just figured let’s do it, and the pandemic’s not going to be around forever. We’re kind of banking things ease up in the spring. All our chips are a little bit in that bag.”

Gianna Prudente
Salt City Coffee is now open in Marshall Square Mall next to the Rescue Mission’s 3fifteen thrift store – the space previously held by Café Kubal.

Throughout the pandemic, Maria said all of her business’s costs increased while number of sales decreased.

“We’ve talked to other coffee shops, and nobody’s really pre-COVID,” she said.

Maria said she and Aaron took a step back to make sure they could keep paying their staff. Salt City Coffee didn’t have to lay off any employees and gave them the option to go on unemployment if they were uncomfortable working during the pandemic.

“Most of our staff decided they wanted to keep staying, so we said we will find a way to not do any layoffs,” she said.

Salt City Coffee has been relying on local funding during the pandemic. Recently, Salt City Coffee was one of 39 small businesses in Syracuse to receive a COVID-19 emergency relief grant through the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation.

This was the second round of grants made possible by federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding, which was given to small businesses to cover eligible expenses. Businesses were given between $2,250 to $10,000, totaling $350,000.

Jennifer Tifft, president of the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors and deputy commissioner of the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, said they conducted targeted outreach by email and social media to reach women and minority-owned businesses.

Tifft said she thinks small businesses have been trying to take advantage of all the resources available to them.

“The nice thing about our grants through the program is that somebody could get a grant for eligible expenses and also be PPP recipient, for example, which is one of the newer federal programs that was created to help small businesses during the pandemic,” she said. “We certainly encourage businesses to take advantage of any and all relief during the pandemic that they’re eligible for, and I think a lot of small businesses frankly have because they need the help.”

Murray Lebovitz, an employee at Salt City Coffee, said the opening has been well received by the SU community.

“I think it’s been well received, especially as the word has gone out and the weather’s gotten warmer,” he said. “People are excited to have a good shop that’s here.”

Maria said she was happy with the turnout and support from the community, especially with how fast the shop opened.

“Since it was really fast, we didn’t really have a lot of time to do some marketing and pushing out that we’re open in here,” she said. “I think for the first day it was a really good turnout for not much marketing.”