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Energizing the neighborhood

Business owner Larry Stitts has been a consultant in the construction industry for most of his working life, but after a 2004 trip to Cameroon in Central Africa, plans for a second career began percolating in his mind.

With a bit of guidance and lots of encouragement from a friend and businessman -- a Canadian of Cameroonian descent he met on that trip -- Stitts nurtured the idea of establishing his own coffee roastery within Buffalo's traditional black neighborhood.

The Golden Cup Cafe & Coffee Roasters, 883 Jefferson Ave., which Stitts operates with his wife, Jacqueline, had its grand opening in late September. Nestled in a small plaza off Cayuga Street, the business has built a steady clientele from neighborhood residents and those who work in the nearby medical corridor.

Customers see the business as a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Richard Manning, of Cheektowaga, recently dropped by with his son. Manning grew up in the neighborhood when Jefferson Avenue was a thriving commercial district in the 1960s.

"I grew up on Norway Park, so I know this community well. I just wish there were more businesses that would come into this community," Manning said.

An economic development lawyer by training, Jackie Stover-Stitts was raised in the neighborhood where the Golden Cup in located. She lived in Harlem for 15 years before returning to her hometown seven years ago.

"I watched [Harlem] come alive through Harlem Renaissance [Economic Development Corp.], and so, hopefully, our community can do the same thing and piggyback off of the medical corridor," Stover-Stitts said.

She also is hopeful that the new, upscale Sycamore Village subdivision will create more of a demand for businesses like hers, which "help build the neighborhood and cause people to want to live on this side of town."

The 2,000-square-foot business is cozy, with a warm ambience enhanced by decor that features slightly textured, gold-colored walls and walnut-hued tables and chairs.

"One of the things we did, my wife and I, [is] we created our own brand. Golden Cup is our brand. We're not [part of] a franchise," said Stitts.

The Golden Cup brand features 10 different blends of coffee, in addition to eight flavored coffees and three organic coffees, all of which Larry Stitts roasts on the premises. He initially trained at Ambex Roast Control in Clearwater, Fla., and has continued his training at sites around the country.

"The roastery part was my passion. The cafe part is my wife's passion. As a partnership, she got what she wanted on this side, and I got what I wanted on that side," he said, referring to the cafe in one part of the shop and the roastery in the other. "It just kind of meshed together."

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