Originally inspired by the pastry prowess of his wife, co-owner Tony DeCarlo shares the transition of Chateau Café and Cakery from traditional coffee shop to lunch destination.
By: Neil Strebig
Chateau Café and Cakery may be called that, but if you ask co-owner Tony DeCarlo the location has evolved from its cakery roots since its original opening in 2013.
“Initially my wife being a pastry chef and being into pastry, cupcakes were the rage and we were going to do all these crazy flavored cupcakes,” said DeCarlo. “I think we really, initially saw ourselves as a bakery first and a lunch place second, but shortly after opening our doors it became evident that this was going to become a lunch spot.”
Since their opening Chateau Café and Cakery has shifted its focus from being just a straightforward bakery, adding more and more items to their lunch menu. As DeCarlo jokes him and his wife Keren, quickly found out that “people like to look and marvel at cupcakes, but they don’t necessarily buy them.”
Despite that comical hardship, the two co-owners have found a recipe for success through their hybrid menu; offering lunch staples like pizza and burgers each Wednesday and Friday, respectively while still staying true to the cafés original roots with a fixture of freshly made pastries and sweets like their “Jack Stack Cookies” and homemade biscotti. Not to mention, they’re defending champions of Northside Sandwich Week with their legendary ‘Mother Clucker’ sandwich, a piece of fried chicken nestled between two halves of a glazed donut and topped with sriracha aioli; a small testament to the kitchen staffs’ ability to evolve and challenge themselves.
While their unconventional style has helped delight taste buds, a large portion of their success can be attributed to the owners’ usage of social media. Their Instagram handle, Chateaucc has nearly 700 followers and is used primarily to showcase potential customers the daily specials and rotating menu items from Chateau’s scratch kitchen.
“[It is] A very easy way to touch all of our customers,” said DeCarlo adding that a post can cause a sort of “reflex” or “knee-jerk reaction” from customers. Shortly after a post, he’ll often hear guests at the counter inquiring about a featured item from their Instagram.
“In terms of marketing that is what we do. We are very active in making sure people know what is going to be here today.”
While social media may bring a large amount of attention to Chateau Café’s menu, DeCarlo is earnest about their location and being a fixture in the oft-forgotten Chateau neighborhood.
“Having lived in Brighton Heights my whole life, living and being involved in this area in the Northside, I kind of just started thinking about this area in general and thought, where do people go to eat down here,” said DeCarlo.
When friend Anthony Lynch, informed the DeCarlos about the space at 1501 Preble Avenue DeCarlo recalled it being a vacant warehouse that certainly didn’t look the part of a bakery location. Yet, DeCarlo and his wife saw the potential in the location – without any staple restaurants in the area, Chateau Café could offer local businessmen and women a spot to recharge and relax.
To him, the neighborhood is a “diamond in the rough” and his current location allows him to be a meeting ground for local employees and businesses in the district.
“It has kind of become a networking space for business people on the Northside and beyond,” said DeCarlo. “It kind of gives this place a heartbeat. There’s really nowhere else for people to really sit down, have a bite to eat and a conversation.”
Chateau Café and Cakery is open Mon. thru Fri. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Local Marketplace Section is supported by PNC Community Development Banking with funding from the PNC Foundation.