By Alyssa Dearborn
In the McCarthy Mercantile under Wildflowers Armory in Downtown Syracuse, you can find handcrafted coffee drinks and unique antiques at Nectar Espresso Bar and Vintages. The idea for an espresso bar and vintage shop was conceived during the pandemic. Today, Nicole Guindon’s café serves delicious lavender lattes, sells classic vintage pieces, and hosts inclusive events for the community.
How she came up with the idea for her business?
“I’ve kind of always wanted to open a coffee shop. And at the time, it was right when the pandemic hit. We moved back to Syracuse from Philadelphia where we were living at the time and my dad had introduced us to auctions. So we were doing a lot of that, which was fun. And we really got into it. You could buy a whole box of really cool vintage things for $5. And we were like, this is amazing. Obviously, you can only have so many things, and maybe we should resell some of this. Some of the things we like to do are grab coffee and go shopping, go vintage shopping, go to thrift stores, things like that.”
“And the espresso bar part,” she continued, “we were like, let’s just go with full on European style. These are the kind of drinks we like. Everyone in Syracuse does more of the bigger drinks with more milk, more sugar, more of the American style coffee drinks I guess. So we were like, let’s just go with what we’re used to, what we drink, and let’s just see how it goes.”
Most of the cups you drink out of and the furniture that you sit on when you enjoy your beverage at Nectar are available for purchase. Nicole strives to create a space where customers can enjoy their drinks in an atmosphere that is, as she described it, “a chill, fun, cute thing.” The same amount of work that goes into building a comfortable atmosphere goes into the selection of beverages offered. The crafted coffee drinks range from the seasonal–such as the iced lavender blue bear–to the classic–like a cappuccino.
“Probably one of my favorites is our pineapple espresso,” Nicole said when asked about some of her favorite menu items. “It’s pineapple juice and espresso, which I know sounds odd, but it’s kind of like the whole orange juice and espresso if you’ve ever heard of that. That’s supposed to be a very popular thing, too. It’s similar to that. It gives it a little bit of a different edge. So that’s one of my favorites. And espresso and sparkling water, separate. I just love the combo of those two.”
But Nectar Espresso Bar and Vintages is not just a place to grab a coffee. Nicole uses the café to host a variety of fun events, including yarn clubs and book clubs. But many of the events–particularly Bored Gays and Board Games Night and the market night called Fatties and Baddies – are geared towards LGBTQIA+ and plus sized people.
“Mainly we do those events specifically because it’s things we know, things that we are, and things that we’re passionate about. We’re not really trying to do things that we don’t understand or that we’re not about. And it’s things that we feel are needed.”
They started Fatties and Baddies as a plus-sized market because there was nothing similar in the Syracuse area.
“as a plus sized person, where do you go clothes shopping? You got Target or Torrid. Or you’re going online. And a lot of people like to try clothes on and I like to shop secondhand, like, helping the earth and it’s also cheaper,” she said. “So doing an event like that helps bring everyone together, just offer new options as plus-sized people.”
“The LGBTQIA+ events, that kind of happened organically. We started with board game nights, which is just casual. We were like, oh, we should have queer board game night. Kayla is part of the LGBTQIA+ community and so are all of our friends. So this makes sense. Then we can all hang out. And then, all of a sudden, we just started hosting and [collaborating] with all of these other events. So we just organically became a little more involved with that market. But again, I think that’s just something that happened because that’s what this area needs.”
When asked about the most enjoyable part of her work, Nicole returned that idea of community. Coffee has the power to bring people together and that is something she gets to see at Nectar.
“I really like the community that it creates.” she said, “I’ve met a lot of really awesome people, like other business owners and even just random people and regulars. We get people traveling through who see us online or randomly stopped in. And it’s nice to hear their stories. And then we also have our regulars that we get to know and become friends with. So that’s a lot of fun. And then it’s also nice to create our own space, like, these are the things I like. I’m doing it because I like it. And that’s really fun.”
Creating a space for more people to enjoy coffee and company is something that Nicole hopes she can do in the future.
“I think that’s kind of where we’re at now. I think we want to expand that a little bit more. We obviously want to grow and have our own space and be bigger and offer more events, maybe just like different things, too. So definitely just create a space for more groups and more people.”
If you are interested in learning more about Nectar Espresso Bar and Vintages, visit https://nectarespressobar.squarespace.com/.