A one-year birthday is a major milestone in an infant’s life signifying a whole year of learning and development, and for Katy Herbach, owner of Katy’s Café and Cake Creations, it’s been a similar experience.
The bubbly and energetic Herbach opened her café and bake shop one year ago and hasn’t looked back since.
Realizing it’s already been a year, Herbach said, “Holy cow! It feels like it’s been three months!”
Over the last year, Herbach has put her personal stamp on the café with comfortable, overstuffed furniture and custom-made tables to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
“We have also added artwork from some of our local artists both on the walls and in other places. I really love all of our local artists who have contributed to helping make Katy’s what it is today,” said Herbach. “I especially want to thank Bob McCarthy and Huey Dunne for their outstanding rustic furniture. Their pieces truly helped add character to the café.”
In addition to physical changes, Herbach has hired a few employees.
“I love all of the staff. Everyone is absolutely fabulous and I could not have gotten through my first year without them,” she said.
You can walk into the café any time of day to see the friendly staff happily chatting with visitors and locals. And chatting is not all you will do. Save room because the food is fabulous.
As with any new restaurant, the menu has evolved since opening.
Herbach said, “We have used our specials board to try new sandwiches, wraps, salads and breakfast items, some of which will be making it to our new menu, which will be coming out by the beginning of May 2013.”
Some of the most popular sandwiches are the Firecracker (grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle aioli grilled on Italian Panini bread), the Stray Kat Melt (sliced roast beef, provolone cheese, grilled onions and garlic mayo grilled to perfection on Italian Panini bread with au jus for dipping), and their Oh So Good Salad (grilled chicken, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, sliced almonds on leafy romaine lettuce with a raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette). Popular breakfast items include breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos.
Recently, Herbach held a Facebook naming contest for the newest sandwich — the EVL Hefer — loaded with freshly sliced roast beef and topped with fiery red pepper relish, gorgonzola cheese and garlic mayo on Panini bread.
In addition to the café offerings, Herbach also creates custom cakes and baked goods for all occasions.
“The cake design aspect of the business is going well. It is tough sometimes,” she said. “Because of our size, we book quickly sometimes and have to turn people down, but it has definitely helped the business. Designing cakes is very fun and is a great creative outlet.”
It doesn’t take more than a minute of conversation to understand that Herbach truly loves her job, especially getting to know all of her customers.
“I think I can stay enthusiastic because of the wonderful customers, my family and friends. The people that come to the café family, friends, new and old customers have helped to fill my life with so much joy, laughter and happiness that I owe my enthusiasm and energy to all of them,” she said. “The ‘Breakfast Club’ is my favorite, I must say, and I have a special place in my heart for every one of them.”
It’s been a whirlwind year and, as with any business, along with a challenging learning curve come heartwarming surprises.
According to Herbach, opening Katy’s Café has confirmed “what a wonderful support system of friends and family that I have, especially my soon-to-be husband Victor Arena. It has been a wonderful year with some crazy moments. Everyone has been so supportive of me and I don’t know if I would have ever realized it, and truly been able to appreciate it without the café.”
As for long-range plans, she said, “I think that I have too many ideas to count. We will just have to see where the wind takes me.”
You can find Katy’s Café in the heart of Ellicottville at 10 Washington Street.