Cafe focuses on micro-seasonal produce, supports local businesses

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Numerous oddities line the walls and shelves at Edible Marketplace Cafe. Managing Partner Jacob Alan Roberts filled the space with crystals and handcrafted soaps to give the eatery a comfortable feel.

Edible Marketplace Cafe officially opened on Oct. 1 and aims to bridge the gap between local, sustainable food and a sense of community in Syracuse. People can expect farm-style foods that are made fresh, such as pita, from Steve Samuels, the cafe’s head of culinary development.

The cafe operates as a cooperative that receives funding and support from the co-op members. This means individuals pay in the form of services, including electrical work, while others pay with money. Edible Marketplace Cafe is down the street from Syracuse University at 712 E. Fayette St., and the market-style restaurant features micro-seasonal produce.

Micro-seasonal eating involves buying available produce on a weekly schedule as opposed to a quarterly schedule. That means, if fiddleheads, an edible fern, are at their prime, Edible Marketplace Cafe is going to serve fiddlehead pesto, Roberts said.

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The cafe is a co-op and focuses on micro-seasonal eating, which involves buying produce on a weekly schedule, instead of a quarterly or seasonal schedule. Daisy Leepson | Contributing Writer

Roberts noticed Syracuse was always at the top of various industries, even going back to typewriters and bicycles that were made in Syracuse. The city is on the cusp of becoming a “cool, hip and upwardly mobile place,” he said. Roberts’ drive to include the Syracuse community in the cafe’s operations is essential to Edible Marketplace and Cafe.

Part of being invested in the Syracuse community includes supporting local establishments. Edible Marketplace Cafe uses cheese from plant-made alternative foods, along with offering a variety of donuts from Glazed and Confused. They also use Pastabilities’ signature stretch bread for avocado toast.

Market-style restaurants allow for income diversification in eateries by allowing people to take home packaged goods, said Melissa Clark, a food writer for The New York Times. This also allows for higher quality produce compared to a generic supermarket.

“It’s so thrilling to me because I can go to one of my restaurant markets, and I can get, you know, that amazing micro-seasonal stuff like fresh fava beans,” Clark said.

Individuals may be paying more for micro-seasonal produce, but it supports local farmers and ensures that those individuals do not have to be dependent on “big agriculture,” Clark said. So while it may cost more, shopping local for food and supporting micro-seasonal produce helps to ensure it remains accessible in the future.

It’s so thrilling to me because I can go to one of my restaurant markets, and I can get, you know, that amazing micro-seasonal stuff like fresh fava beans.

Melissa Clark, food writer for the New York Times

For Roberts, the cafe is about encouraging eateries around Syracuse to uplift one another. By working together, establishments can cross-promote and help the city of Syracuse grow together, he said.

“Every business, especially the ones that are local and provide products that nobody else makes, could use a little help — could a little bit more exposure,” Roberts said. “So, we benefit by having them, and we benefit by having their brand represented.”

Roberts also said that the taste is far superior and that this care is about cognition of where your food comes is sourced. This is one of the reasons that Koi Widdlekind joined the cafe as a community supporter.

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Jacob Alan Roberts opened the cafe on Oct. 1 and is works to encourage eateries around Syracuse to work together. Daisy Leepson | Contributing Writer

“It is important for folks to see where their food is coming from because we rely so much on a system where food is just so easily accessible that we do not know where it is coming from,” Widdlekind said.

Edible Marketplace Cafe is also on a mission to educate the community. Roberts said that the cafe is “an incubator” for differing interests and that he wants people to have multiple platforms.

Samuels, who is the head of culinary development at Edible Marketplace Cafe, believes that co-op restaurants are the future of the industry. Roberts said menu flexibility at Edible Marketplace Cafe also allows for creativity in the variety of dishes offered.

“We want these chefs and cooks to go wild,” Roberts said.

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