CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — MochaLisa’s Caffé, located in Clifton Park Center, has undergone some changes over the past few months. The café came under new ownership in November, later moved to a new space not that far away from the old location, and added a bookstore.
“Our friend, Alan Hughes reached out to me and my husband, Roland Van Zandt, asking us if we knew MochaLisa’s was for sale,” said Nicole Van Zandt, one of the owners. “It was our go-to coffeeshop and it has always been Roland’s and my retirement dream to own a coffeeshop/bookstore. We reached out to our friend Colin Hughes (Alan’s brother) to see if he was interested in what seemed like a crazy idea at the time. The more we talked about it and ran the numbers, the more we realized it could actually happen.”
The four of them bought the Clifton Park MochaLisa’s from Kari Cook, who still owns three other MochaLisa’s locations. One is in the Capital Region Health Park in Latham, and the second is in the SUNY Albany University Health Center, and the third is in the New York State United Teachers building in Latham.
On December 10, MochaLisa’s moved into its new space next to GameStop in Clifton Park Center. The café used to be located a few doors down next to Bath & Body Works.
Each of the owners has an area of expertise, said Nicole. She runs the marketing, social media, private events, the book section, and baking. Roland handles the accounting, budgeting, and inventory management. Colin manages the employee scheduling, interviewing, and hiring. Alan led the renovations of the new space, and handles the utility companies and landlords.
“None of us had barista experience, but we are lucky enough to have amazing employees who have been patient with us and helped us learn on a short and condensed schedule,” said Nicole. “We each have our ‘day jobs’ outside the cafe, but work the evening events, on weekends, and on our days off.”
When is came to adding the bookstore and board games, Nicole said they wanted something that would differentiate them from other cafés in the area. All the books, new and used, and the board games are for sale.
“Colin and I are avid readers so adding book sales was almost an automatic decision, ” said Nicole. “Our thought was ‘There’s no bookstore in Clifton Park. Let’s become the bookstore in Clifton Park.’ The four of us also love board games and often have game nights, replaying favorites and trying out new ones.”
They made a few changes to the menu including removing the beer and wine (pending the liquor license), changing the names of some of the sandwiches for clarity, and bringing more vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, as well as more pastries, to the menu. You can view the full menu on the MochaLisa’s website.
The new owners have also started holding events in the café such as trivia nights and board game nights. The trivia nights have been a success, said Nicole, and MochaLisa’s first board game night is set for January 18 at 6:30 p.m.
They also created a “Friends of MochaLisa’s” part of the shop where they sell goods from some local small businesses including Marzia Small Creations, Eat With Aliens, Molly Shapiro, One Man Makes, The Bookish Bakery (owned by Nicole), and B*tch*n St*ch*n. Nicole said they are also starting a partnership with Saratoga Tea & Honey to improve their tea offerings.
Nicole said business has been great so far. “We love that we’ve been able to continue MochaLisa’s legacy as a go-to spot to connect with friends, work remotely, and just relax.”
“We’re so proud of and thankful to our employees for sticking with us through the ownership transition and the move,” said Nicole. “We’ve really got the best team, and none of this would be possible without them.”
“Our future plans are truly focused around really developing a space where everyone feels welcome and comfortable, and using our reach to support other local small businesses,” said Nicole.