Ontario ARC’s North Star Coffee opens in new Flowers by Stella complex

CANANDAIGUA — It’s an intoxicating blend: the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the fragrance of freshly cut flowers.

That mix can now be found at North Star Coffee, which opened June 26 at 1880 Route 332 in Canandaigua.

Ontario ARC’s latest social enterprise — a full-service coffee bar and café — has made its home inside the gleaming new Flowers by Stella building, also the location of Keller Williams Realty and Scoops II Ice Cream.

North Star Coffee baristas and servers offer handcrafted beverages made with blends from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters and treats baked fresh daily by Sully’s Café, also a division of Ontario ARC. Coffee drinks are made to order or can be purchased as freshly roasted whole beans by the pound. And customers on the go can enjoy curbside pickup via GrubHub.com.

The Flowers by Stella complex, owned and developed by Sarah Genecco, is one with which Canandaigua Town Manager Doug Finch and others are especially pleased. The new 12,000-square-foot structure pays tribute to the area’s agricultural heritage through the shape and architecture of the barn-style building.

“She worked with Hanlon Architecture to come up with the look and overall style to complement the agricultural theme associated with the Padelford Brook Greenway, which includes 10,800 acres of prime soil farmland and soils of statewide importance,” said Finch. “This area also happens to be where the majority of our larger farming operations are located.”

The new Flowers by Stella building features 25-foot panoramic windows and an open floor plan with indoor greenhouse. A high-tech glass “silo” at one end is North Star Coffee’s home.

The coffee shop and its new space came together largely by chance. Michelle Jungermann, Director of Meaningful Activities for Ontario ARC, said she and Ontario ARC Executive Director Ann Scheetz initially met with Genecco to talk about space options. Genecco sits on the ARC Community Advisory Board.

“We were looking for ways to move some of our programs out of the main facility and look for more community-based opportunities,” Jungermann said. “Sarah mentioned how great it would be to have a coffee shop here.

“We had looked at other locations to do something similar,” said Jungermann. “But obviously when we were in this space and saw how beautiful it was, and having the real estate offices next door and Stella’s here too, we thought it would be a great opportunity to create a new business.”

It doesn’t hurt that Scoops Ice Cream is just a few steps away, either. The complex offers a treat for every palate.  

“Sarah’s been a great supporter of our agency,” said Jungermann of Genecco. “Her and Ann have had a connection for a long time. She said ‘What can we do together?’”

Ontario ARC Business Plan Developer Michael Bradley charted the course, and then Jungermann put that plan into action, and oversees day-to-day operation of the café.

North Star Coffee employs a staff of ten from various backgrounds, some of whom are served by Ontario ARC. Jungermann said these employment opportunities encourage individual growth, including learning the skills and tasks to professionally operate the café and provide a warm, welcoming customer service experience.

Jamie Jensen is a café attendant who started training a week before opening day. She’s one of the smiling faces who greets customers and makes sure they have everything they need.

“It’s fun, I love it,” she said about her new 20-hour a week job. “It’s a great community, it’s fun to work around the baristas and the flowers.”

North Star Coffee also has pre-employment programs that offer internship opportunities, Jungermann said. Those interns can learn pre-employment skills in a real work environment.

It was Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters owner Bob Cowdery who helped Jungerman make equipment choices and purchases.

“Bob has worked with us all along the way,” said Jungermann. “We’re using their coffee, and he really has been wonderful.”

For now the shop features about 20 beverages, but retail items like coffee mugs and to-go mugs will be added soon, she said.

“We’ll also have retail items from our Bad Dog line of products,” said Jungermann. “We have a group through our Pet Connections program that creates bandanas, dog biscuits, shampoos and spritzers,” she said.

Bad Dog products are also sold at Wegmans stores in Canandaigua, Geneva and Ithaca, according to ontarioarc.org.

The artwork that hangs on the walls at the café also the work of ARC participants.

“Through our Creative Expressions program we have an art component,” said Jungermann. “The ‘Movement Canvas’ incorporates music and art, and we have more artwork coming.”

The café’s name has special meaning, according to Bradley. It was chosen because Ontario ARC “associates its mission with the qualities of the North Star as a universal beacon to find your place in the world,” he said.

“The logo features a bear, which is prominently featured in Native American folklore surrounding the North Star, and is an important part of Finger Lakes culture and heritage,” said Bradley.

Scheetz said she was thrilled to be working with Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters and providing “wonderful career opportunities for people supported by Ontario ARC.”

“We envision North Star Coffee as a highly visible part of the Canandaigua community,” she said.

ARC Communications Coordinator Jenna Chapman called North Star Coffee “a great community connection.”

“We pull in people from all walks of life,” she said. “Obviously people with disabilities or other challenges, but also people from the community. We want to be a warm, welcoming atmosphere where you can come and grab a cup of coffee, either on your way to work, or just to relax and enjoy yourself. The space is beautiful.”

North Star Coffee offers free wi-fi and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit northstarcoffee.org or find North Star Coffee on Facebook and Instagram. www.facebook.com/NorthStarCoffee.OntarioARC.