Salute Coffee is aiming to literally and figuratively fill a niche.
The restaurant and coffee bar, on Armstrong Street in Sudbury's south end, opened a second location downtown on Elm Street last May, which owner-operator Tania Renelli said has proven very popular with the neighbourhood.
A lesser-known draw Renelli wants everyone to know about is both locations offer catering and space for rent for almost any occasion.
“It could be a product launch, business meeting; we can host private functions after hours at either location,” she said.
“At the Elm location (Laurentian University's McEwen School of Architecture), students use the space as a kind of study hall, pushing tables together for groups. They like the atmosphere, location and the food and coffee we serve."
Both can accommodate up to 40 people and have been rented out several times already for private events.
She added the Elm location is still considered a “baby” in terms of how long it's been open in the downtown core, but it is attracting everyone from students to people working in neighbouring businesses. They were able to establish the new location in the building and preserve the history of the building in the exposed brick, big windows and high ceilings, which she says is a big attraction for anyone from regular customers to private functions.
In the south end, their bigger location has several options for those looking to rent out space, with the added bonus of it being licensed to sell alcohol. The Elm Street location would require a liquor licence just for the occasion they would need to apply for, Renelli explained.
The main seating area boasts two fireplaces and Wi-Fi, while the company's main boardroom upstairs is also for rent, and includes a large flat-screen Smart TV, a whiteboard. It can seat 15 people around the table and has its own separate entrance.
“We can do as much or as little catering as requested, from water and coffee, and can go right up to a five, or seven, course meal, and we can go off menu, if requested,” she said. “We do what we can to accommodate.”
As well, their array of house-made foods that include gluten-free, vegan and include local sources are a popular draw for customers and business travellers at both the Elm and south end location.
A big part of having more healthy food at Salute is from her own experience.
Renelli explained as a mom and entrepreneur, she would take the family on road trips or go on business and encounter a lot of fast food drive-thrus. This inspired her to come up with a menu that had ready-to-go healthy options.
“It's hard to eat healthy when you are on the road, whether it be on business or vacation with the family; it becomes really easy to just go drive-through and throw burgers into the backseat for the kids,” she said. “People are surprised when they see we have a drive-thru window and have healthy options.”
With the rise in demand for vegan and gluten-free options, she said it is important to have those on offer so travellers with dietary restrictions can have meals ready to go.
The core of Salute Coffee remains their food and beverage, which Renelli said they work hard to source locally for many reasons. They want to support the local suppliers, offer healthy food options and showcase the region's growing agriculture industry.
It can be more expensive, she said, but the steady growth and regular customers prove it is working.
“We get a lot of people here doing business from down south and they come here looking for a quick bite. We advertise where we get our food from and they are surprised to see so much being produced this far north,” she said. “Sudbury still has that reputation of just being mining. They are unaware of how much food comes from this region.”
Renelli pointed out she purchases all maple syrup in their products from a local supplier, all eggs come from a farmer in Massey, and their kale from Chelmsford, to name a few. Featuring local products in her menu helps advertise those businesses to others while Salute coffee supports them, she added.