SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP – For Jason and Jen Bakus, operating a cafe is about more than just a good cup of coffee.
“It’s not just ‘is our coffee better?’” Bakus asked.
It’s about taking what he’s learned from his restaurant industry experience and sharing it with others, creating a sense of community at the Pampered Palate Cafe and Bistro.
The husband and wife own the cafe, which opened in early June in Springfield Township. They had been eyeing the area and forged ahead in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s the type of area we want to be a part of,” Bakus said.
Located at 225 Westside Square Drive in the Springfield Commons plaza off state Route 208 near Grove City Premium Outlets, the cafe offers a menu that the Bakuses feel fills a void.
There are other coffee shops in the Grove City area, but they haven’t come across another cafe with a food and drink menu that’s as extensive as Pampered Palate.
In addition to coffee – which comes in iced, cold brew, frozen, hot or flavored – there’s tea, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, pastries, soup, bagels, quiche and salads plus seasonal items.
The cafe is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Online ordering is available and deliveries to certain areas can be arranged through DoorDash.
The Bakuses, who live in Guys Mills, also own a Pampered Palate in Meadville plus the Pampered Palate Catering and Conference Center in Saegertown.
The pandemic has been challenging, but they’ve already created a following of regular customers at the new location.
Brittany Mattson of Grove City stopped in one afternoon for a drink, checking out the coffee-themed decor and enjoying the outdoor seating.
So far her favorites are Vanilla Spritz Chill Out, pumpkin-flavored coffee, white chocolate mocha, and the Southwest Sensation Wrap.
Bakus, who favors the Ultimate Cheese sandwich and caramel macchiato, got his start in the industry as a dishwasher and went on to work as an apprentice under a master chef and attend the New England Culinary Institute.
The Vermont native has worked on the East Coast and in Germany and Australia, and some of the Pampered Palate menu is inspired by those experiences, which include family recipes for baked goods.
They use fresh and local ingredients and single-origin coffee supplied by Mill Creek Coffee in Erie for the most consistent flavor. There are no added sugars or preservatives, and the menu features vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options.
The most popular items are peach-mango smoothies, pesto chicken sandwich, West Coast Bird sandwich, and The Californian Salad.
The Bakuses believe that their employees are a big part of what makes the cafe a success. They get to know the customers, making them feel like they’re part of the Pampered Palate family.
At the Meadville cafe, employees dress down on certain days in the summer – Casual for a Cause means their tips on those days are donated to a local charity. The Bakuses match the donation.
A similar plan is in the works for the Springfield Township restaurant. Mrs. Bakus added that veterans can receive a 10 percent discount with identification, and first responders can receive a small coffee with any purchase in October.
They aim to give back to those who support small businesses like the cafe, hoping to set a good example.
“Our purpose is to grow the community,” Bakus said.
The Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the cafe at noon Oct. 30. Attendees must observe social distancing guidelines and wear face masks (unless medically unable). Registration is required. Call the chamber at 724-458-6410 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pampered Palate Cafe and Bistro is at 225 Westside Square Drive, Springfield Township. It is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 724-748-6073 or visit their Facebook page or www.pamperedpalatecafe.com