Sparkroot, the cafe currently occupying the Northwest corner of Congress Street and Fifth Avenue, is being purchased by local roaster Caffe Luce Coffee Roasting Co.
Ari Shapiro, the original owner of Xoom Juice and current owner of Falora and Sidecar, opened the cafe in 2011. At the time, Downtown was just starting to hint at a revitalization, and Sparkroot bravely filled one of the most prominent shop fronts across the street from Hotel Congress. Since then, Sparkroot’s third wave coffee and lofty, two-story modern design have made it a popular destination for students and the downtown workforce.
“Xoom was a great launching pad for Sparkroot, and Sparkroot was a great launching pad for Falora because of the sophisticated food program there,” explained Shapiro. “My heart now is really in pizza. With opening Beaut Burger with my wife next year, I’m retiring the Sparkroot concept. I have no plans of reviving it. Instead, I’m handing it off to a guy that does great things with coffee.”
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Caffe Luce owner Michael Foster is far from a newcomer to the coffee scene, having originally opened Caffe Vita in Seattle. Currently, Caffe Luce has two locations at 943 East University Boulevard and 4205 North Campbell Avenue. Foster opened the original University Blvd. location in 2007.
“To have a flagship location on Fifth and Congress, surrounded by so many good people and businesses is unique,” said Foster. “Sparkroot has done wonderful things for the revival of our downtown. I am excited to be part of the next wave of growth and to serve the Luce community in such a special space.”
Caffe Luce certainly brings a strong fan base with it, having served their signature blends, like the Costa Rican medium roast coffee and Azteca Mocha, around town for eight years now. Each cup comes complete with latte art, courtesy of well-trained baristas.
Although Sparkroot’s coffee program will change immediately to align with Caffe Luce’s offerings, the full transition from Sparkroot to Caffe Luce will take place over about six months. During the transition, a refocusing of food offerings, as well as a complete relaunch of the Caffe Luce brand will be in development.
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Meanwhile, fans of Falora and Sidecar can certainly expect to benefit from Shapiro’s increased attention.
“Falora is turning three this March, and every year we focus more and more on what we’re doing within these small four walls. Last year I took over the oven, which was a big change for the vibe and the food. The plan is to keep refining it, making it an incredibly unique experience. We keep hearing ‘wow, there’s nothing like this in this town,’ and we’d like to keep pushing the envelope.”
While the original intention for Sidecar was to keep it distinct from Falora, Shapiro is responding to increased interest from customers in making both spots a combined evening destination. When Sidecar first opened, Shapiro refused to allow pizzas to be delivered down to the craft cocktail bar. But, the people kept asking, and he gave in six months ago, stating that “it’s really been lovely.”
“We are excited to continually impact Tucson’s food and beverage industry in positive ways through home-grown companies in which we both roll up our sleeves, crafting products we strongly believe in.”