Joe Pinto knew what changes he thought would help the café in his building be a success, so he decided to stop renting out the space and run the business himself.
“I enjoy being around the public and working with food,” said the former chef and hotel manager. “I love seeing people’s reaction when they’re enjoying a good meal.”
Since the space at 535 Prince St., previously a branch of the Royal Bank, first opened as a café in 2005 it has been the Fair Trade Café, CoCo Community Café, Calabay Café, Give Back Café, and now Joe’s Fair Trade Café.
Before reopening the business, shortly before Christmas, Pinto replaced some flooring and had barriers removed to create a more open feel.
“I brought back ‘Just Us’ coffee,” he said. “That’s what was originally sold here and it’s a good fair trade product.
“We’re offering a home-cooked lunch every day so people who are working don’t have to wait, with things like soups, chili and corned beef and cabbage. We have vegetarian chili and lasagna about three days a week, and we’ve got a good salad bar.”
They also have a popular all-day breakfast.
Pinto plans to use the space for fundraisers he organizes to help people in Guatemala.
“I have another job and once everyone is trained I won’t have to be here so much,” he added. “It’s the fair trade brand that’s important, and having friendly service and good food.”
The café is open Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. On Fridays it stays open until 10 p.m., with patrons showing up for live music jams. On Saturday it closes at 1 p.m.