I hear the rumble of my stomach and check my pockets; only ten dollars and some change. I don’t want the sluggish after effects of fast food or the sweet pastries that will fill me for but a mere hour. So that’s when I turn my attention to the local cafés near my home, their tendencies to use fresh foods appeals to me. I stumble upon a café named The Quadrant, a bookstore and coffee house. I walk through the front door and immediately notice the tall book shelves stretching across the walls. I’m excited by the many different pieces of literature. The floors are the original wood, small holes are visible here and there, but it’s all a part of the character. I take a seat and I am approached by a friendly barista who places a small menu in front on me. After a few minutes I order the Cuban sandwich and a hazelnut coffee… mmm. While my food is being prepared I take notice of the old time feel and the fresh fruits being displayed in the glass case up front. Before I knew it a large sandwich with ham, turkey, mustard, swiss cheese, pickles and a side of fresh fruit was sitting in front of me. I devoured it within minutes and washed it down with a smooth hazelnut coffee. In the end I spent $9.50 for my entire lunch, what a success!
The owner, Jo Meranville, worked in the food industry all of her life but before The Quadrant she was working for corporate offices. When her and her husband retired they bought the bookstore with a, then, non-working coffee shop. However, once in their possession, they revamped the coffee shop and begun serving a variety of coffee; three of which are from fair trade organic coffee beans.
They originally agreed they would only serve coffee and pastries, but they soon realized their customers would crave more. As time went on customers kept requesting more food, because their products were already so delicious. So Jo decided to add breakfast items and sandwiches to the menu. She listened to the customers’ suggestions and put her own spin on them by using all natural ingredients. She even has some delicious concoctions such as an omelet with spinach, tomatoes, peppers and several cheeses.
We offer all natural products purchased at the local farmers market and Jacob’s Produce. From the beginning, we made a commitment to fresh fruit and that’s why it’s featured on the side of many of our meals.
This struck me as interesting, because I remember the summer farmers market; all the different products each business proudly displays. They have the gratification of knowing that all of their products benefit the community. Now that I live right across the street I have been waiting for the commencement of [outdoor] Easton’s Farmers Market.
Since The Quadrant is a smaller café we only buy what we need week to week. Therefore, we have no use of processed food or pre-packaged meals. One of the biggest reasons we chose this route is because the farmers’ market is conveniently close and the best tasting produce is the freshest. We try to stick to produce that is in season. There’s nothing like a summer tomato.
Where do you purchase your foods?
Our vegetables, fruits, and dairy are purchased locally and regionally. The breads come from bakeries in the big cities [New York City, New Jersey] because we like to have a nice variety. The all natural iced teas we offer come from Joe Tea, a family owned business in Hoboken that sells to only select establishments.
Joe’s Tea is surprisingly tasty. It uses all natural ingredients to give the same, if not better, taste of popular store brand iced teas. The only difference is I feel better about this choice of purchase.
Why did you choose to commit yourself to fresh products? How has it affected your business?
We chose to commit ourselves to fresh products because we know that’s what our customers want. People want it to be fresh, no preservatives. Cooked fresh and in the end they walk out feeling physically better. [With a smile] It has been great for the business, because people know they are eating something that is good for them and also affordable.
What is your goal or daily mission?
There’s not a whole lot you can control in a business, but the one thing you can control is the atmosphere. We strive to provide a relaxing atmosphere and make people happy. We’re unique and we embrace, and people love it. We resist commercialism and keep things very natural in every sense of the word.
Why do you continue this business?
This business will never make me rich, but it makes me happy every day. It’s a lifestyle choice.
They resist commercialism so materialistic things are not as important to them. This is very clear from the moment you walk in, because everything has its place hasn’t and seems as if it hasn’t moved for years. There are not any major brands being plastered about their windows or menus. They’re a humble business with a hometown feel.
Do you believe the outcome is worth the buy?
Yes. It may cost us a bit more to purchase these products, but it is always worth it. Everyone leaves satisfied and relaxed.