Living the Dream Through Cupcakes and Caffeine

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CAKE 
Statesboro, Georgia

It’s mid-morning on a sunny Saturday, after a satisfying brunch and visit to my local farmers’ market. Dressed completely casually with nowhere to be, I stroll along East Main Street in downtown Statesboro to find an inviting sidewalk chalkboard and the doors open wide at CAKE Bakery and Cool Beanz Espresso Bar. Upon entering, I discover much more than cupcakes and caffeine. Here two kindred spirits — one culinary artist and one head coffee geek — have joined forces to make their dreams a reality.

wpid-0407141733.jpgMeet David Hoyle, former senior project manager for a technology integration company, turned owner of Cool Beanz Espresso Bar. Here’s a guy who said, ‘It’s now or never,’ and dove head first into his passion–pure coffee, expertly brewed. He started down the path of coffee discovery after tasting his first cup of lightly roasted coffee on a business trip in Caracas, Venezuela. Before, David says he was a fan of triple grande, 3-pump skinny mochas. When it came to drinking coffee, he would disguise its bitter taste with heavy doses of cream and sugar, consuming what he calls “coffee-flavored sugar milk.” Curiosity led him to begin experimenting with various brewing methods which can alter and enhance the flavor profile of a coffee bean. Now, just over two months into his new business venture, he’s having the time of his life offering three different brewing techniques to Southeast Georgians everywhere: Pour-over, Immersion and Espresso. He prepares every single cup by hand. Armed with the finest local ingredients, he’s ready to rock your coffee world.

Two Statesboro-based coffee companies supply all David’s coffee beans: Three Tree Coffee Roasters and Iron Wedge. Java isn’t all he’s serving up. You can order hot chocolate, frozen chocolate shakes, chai tea lattes and milk. On my last visit, I ordered Three Tree’s Ethiopian coffee. Naturally bright and sweet with a hint of berries, every sip was smooth going down, not wanting for anything.

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Contributed Photo

This is Shannon Ward, bakery owner. A former registered radiologic technologist and sonographer, Shannon enjoyed her career in the medical field but needed a job that would allow her creative spirit to soar. After becoming a stay-at-home-mom, she began baking cake pops and cakes for extra income. She gained quite a following in Screven and Bulloch Counties, and with the support of many encouraging friends and family, gained the confidence to open CAKE. 

wpid-0509141720.jpgIn addition to those tried and true flavors like chocolate, birthday and red velvet cake, Shannon enjoys changing up the menu daily, offering creations like the baklava cupcake with all the essentials–lemon, honey and pistachios–or her maple and bacon cupcake. She says she loves the freedom of coming into her kitchen early in the morning, looking at what she has on hand and whipping up something unexpected and amazing. So far, I’ve tried the PB&J and Key Lime flavors. I also love her nod to all things local, from the ingredients she bakes with to the Georgia Southern-inspired True Blue cupcakes. Based on customer requests and her own inspiration, Forrest Gump might equate the ever-changing menu to a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re going to get. 

wpid-0407141728a.jpgFrench Macaroons are also offered daily, along with homemade quiche.  Birthday and other special occasion cakes are made to order. Tying the knot? Wedding cakes are available too.

wpid-0407141727.jpgCAKE is a small space with big impact. Chic and modern with exposed brick walls and quaint little tables, the atmosphere is inviting and cozy. The artwork hanging in the bakery is all for sale and painted by a local artist. Even the fresh flowers on each table are provided by a neighboring florist. Food is served on dinnerware with metal utensils. These small touches really enhance each visit. You get a happy and pleasant energy the moment you enter, and those kinds of details keep me coming back.

My Ethiopian coffee along with a Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcake.
My Ethiopian coffee along with a Peanut Butter & Jelly cupcake.

With a name like CAKE, what’s not to love?



New to Some Kinda Good?
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this post, you may also be interested to read about a few of the other local restaurants and bakeries I’ve reviewed. As the Statesboro Herald food columnist and a Georgia Southern University alumna, the ‘Boro is a second home to me. Be sure to like Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter, to keep up with all my latest, local food discoveries.

CAKE Bakery & Cool Beanz Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

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Get the Local Vibe at 40 East Grill

40 East Grill
Statesboro, Georgia

Local restaurants are the jewels of small towns. You may have your go-to dish at a well-known chain, but exploring indigenous places to eat–that’s where the magic happens. The truth is, I love Red Lobster’s Seaside Shrimp Trio and the Crispy Chicken Tacos at Chili’s. I can’t go to Cracker Barrel without ordering hash brown casserole as my side dish. However, no matter where I travel, these great restaurants will only offer more of the same. To understand the real picture of a city’s culture, people and food, you’ve got to venture outside the chain-restaurant-comfort-zone. It’s there, at places like downtown Statesboro’s 40 East Grill, you’ll find homegrown flavors, and in this case, experience the true vibe of small town America with a modern twist.

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Offering lunch and dinner, 40 East Grill opened in August 2012. With a locally focused menu that changes every few months, they pride themselves on cooking with a fusion of native products featuring B&G Honey Farm, cheese from Flat Creek Lodge and beef produced by Southeast Georgia farmers. Chicken and seafood are other great options. My go-to lunch combo is She Crab Soup paired with the Three-Cheese Panini, pictured below. I often add a side of crispy sweet potato fries to round out the meal. My co-workers and I have made 40 East Grill a regular lunch stop. It makes for a fantastic date night too.

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The menu, presented on a clip board with a clothes pin, even includes fun drink choices outside the norm, like an Arnold Palmer (half tea/half lemonade) or blended coffee. Most recently, they’ve added a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich to the menu! That’s not something you see every day and that’s exactly what’s to love about 40 East Grill…it’s creative, classy and unpredictable. The restaurant’s best sellers include the Southern River Farms Ribeye , Chicken Pot Pie and the Maryland Style Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes topped with a lemon beurre blanc.

THE FOOD:


THE ATMOSPHERE: 


40 East Grill has a quaint, urban feel that’s trendy and warm with exposed brick throughout, a welcoming chalk board at the entrance that lists daily specials, original hardwood floors, earthy paint colors and modern lamp lighting. Outdoor seating is available with a great view of downtown Statesboro, onlooking the Emma Kelly Theater and Averitt Center for the Arts. Live music happens often too, varying from country, rock and bluegrass. Even the talent is local! Additionally, the ladies restroom is among the cutest I’ve seen complete with a luxurious crystal chandelier and vessel sink.

THE BAR:

Happy hour is every evening from 5 – 7 p.m. Stop in for a signature cocktail at the 18 foot copper top bar, like the 40’s Perfect Margarita or Cucumber Melon Martini. During Happy Hour, wells and house wines range from $2 – $3.  Not quite ready to go home? Stay for chicken parmesan or a 12-ounce bone-in, pan seared pork chop and watch a game on the flat screen TVs.

Wild Berry Pie filled with fresh blueberries and blackberries, topped with whipped cream cheese.  Photo credit: 40 East Grill.
Wild Berry Pie filled with fresh blueberries and blackberries, topped with whipped cream cheese.
Photo credit: 40 East Grill.

Aside from delicious food, the thing that sets 40 East Grill apart is the service. Time and again, I’ve been impressed by the servers’ attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile. They’re consistently well dressed, friendly and accommodating. The restaurant is open Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 – 9 p.m., also on Saturdays from 5 – 9:30 p.m.

When quality like this exists in your own neighborhood, it’ll make you think twice before venturing out-of-town.

40 East Grill on Urbanspoon

Downtown Statesboro is Alive with South & Vine Public House

UPDATE: South & Vine Public House caught fire on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. Owner Seni Alabi Isama has now opened a new restaurant in Statesboro called 441 Public Kitchen and Bar. More on the fire here: South & Vine Public House Burned But Not Broken. 


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South & Vine Public House
Statesboro, Georgia

Great things are happening at the intersection of South Main and West Vine streets in downtown Statesboro. Open for just four months now, one Georgia Southern alumnus and his team are making a big impact on the community, with a focus on flavor and a philosophy on fresh that you won’t believe until your taste buds live it. With more than 1,000 Facebook likes, South & Vine Public House is a food experience Savannahians will soon be driving to Bulloch County to discover.

wpid-20130601_193417.jpgYou won’t find the menu online because it changes daily based on ingredient availability and the owner’s intuition. No matter what’s featured, you can be guaranteed it will be made with local ingredients and cooked to perfection by Chef and Owner Seni (pronounced Shanney), Head Chef Stephen, who formerly worked at Emma’s Fine Dining & Lounge, and Sous Chef Sebastian, a Miami native.

This is a restaurant that gets it.

THE FOOD:


At South & Vine Public House, food is the main event. From Hunter Cattle Company beef, ground in-house, to the made-from-scratch ketchup and mayonnaise, these folks are really cooking. The menu features what’s in season, so when an item runs out, it’s all gone. Dine here if it’s flavor you seek, an appreciation for quality ingredients, beautiful presentation and healthy portion sizes paired with appropriate prices. Excellence reveals itself in each menu item’s texture, plating and taste.

THE BAR:

Happy hour is from 4 – 6 p.m. daily, featuring 25% off the entire bar and all appetizers.

THE ATMOSPHERE:

A casual environment, you’ll find a small vase of fresh flowers at each table and utensils wrapped in white linens. The restaurant has an open concept floor plan including a “window” into the kitchen, and a chalkboard placed behind the hostess stand highlighting daily specials. Seating includes tables, booths and a bar area overlooking South Main Street. Attention is even given to the clean, tastefully decorated restrooms (which I always appreciate).

THE STAFF:


The team at South & Vine is welcoming and knowledgeable about the menu. Owner Seni and his wife, move about the restaurant conversing with customers, making mental notes of names and faces. It’s a place guests feel comfortable and leave satisfied.

wpid-20130601_205406.jpgWe parted with this subtle note of hospitality, a hand-carved “flower vase” made of Walker Farms’ rainbow carrots, compliments of the chef.

South & Vine Public House on Urbanspoon