Newly-Opened Cartel Broadway Brings Fresh Lovin’ from the Oven
December 30, 2013
Anytime you’ve proven successful, especially to the degree that Cartel Coffee Lab’s venture has been, one must fight against the tendency to continue doing the same things, and take fewer risks. The Tempe-based coffee enterprise, which won an award (one of America’s Best Coffee Bars) in September from BBC Travel, is already well-known for their excellent coffee, tea, and pulled espresso drinks, in addition to a great lineup of eats and pastries available at their other locations.
As such, owner Jason Silberschlag had a lot to chew on when pondering the new Downtown Tucson location, which would be their sixth store, in addition to locations in Tempe, Phoenix, Tucson (Campbell Ave) and Sky Harbor International Airport.
“While we were searching for a location,” explained Silberschlag, “we were shown this one, and initially, we weren’t totally sold on it…but the longer we looked at it, the more it made sense, and the intriguing possibilities became apparent.”
Chief among these possibilities is the massive wood-burning oven, which occupies the space behind the long coffee bar and counter in the 3,000 sq. ft. location at Broadway and Herbert.
“I became fascinated with wood-burning ovens after seeing them in a couple of other places,” said Silberschlag. “The way they control moisture, and the textures possible… 99% of other places just use ‘em for pizza, but I thought it would be great if we focused on just using this oven…(installing no other cooking devices)…that way we’d be forced to be creative.”
The result will be an array of breakfast items, bistro-style sandwiches, and pizza that are certainly a leap beyond that unappetizing microwaved pa-no-no you might get at the big global coffee chain, and represent unexplored terrain for the six-year old Cartel.
Another brand new innovation for Cartel Broadway includes the line of local craft beer and wine they plan on offering very soon, in addition to the brand new ModBar espresso machine, one of only six in America.
“It’s all about the experience we can offer people here,” said Silberschlag. “Whether you hang out for eighteen hours or 30 minutes, we want anyone that comes in to have a great experience.” The new location features a very open, bright, modern feel, quite at home amid the pantheon of new Downtown ventures given the natural wood and burnished steel decor. There are enormous front windows, exposed brick, and a ton of light for the service areas provided by the large skylights nestled among the wooden beams crisscrossing the ceiling.
All of the metal fixtures and tables were actually welded by the owner himself. “I had a problem at the Tempe location,” explained Silberschlag. “The city wanted us to erect a structure to conceal the chimney there…I thought it would be too expensive to hire someone just to build it…so I picked up a welding machine and learned to use it.” Now, he insists on building anything to be made of steel in Cartel’s locations himself. “There’s such a sense of instant satisfaction. You don’t have to wait for glue to dry!”
Silberschlag is incredibly excited to be a part of the explosive Downtown renaissance taking shape. “I was born and raised in Tucson, spent the first 25 years of my life here,” said Silberschlag. “It’s so great to watch this area really come to life like it has.”
Given Cartel’s demonstrable commitment to quality, and the vibrant new space they’ve created, it looks as if they’ve engineered another wonderful environment for people to inhabit as that critical third space beyond work and home, in addition to brewing a really robust cup o’ joe. Cartel Coffee Lab on Broadway is open NOW at 210 E. Broadway from 7a-8p daily. Check them out on Facebook here or on the web.