currents

Is there life before coffee?

By TED WADDELL
Posted 1/27/21

NORTH BRANCH, NY — Courtney Roche, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Callicoon, NY, made her dream come through on December 10 last year when she opened up Rease’s Cup, a country-flavored …

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currents

Is there life before coffee?

Posted

NORTH BRANCH, NY — Courtney Roche, a 28-year-old entrepreneur from Callicoon, NY, made her dream come through on December 10 last year when she opened up Rease’s Cup, a country-flavored yet hip coffee and breakfast café in the Landing at North Branch.

Roche graduated from Honesdale High School in 2011, attended SUNY Sullivan studying hospitality management for a while, and then worked at several restaurants.

“A lot of [my friends are] chefs, and I learned the ropes hands-on,” she said of her early formative experiences in the culinary arts.

The pandemic took hold just after Roche was approved for a business loan, and she was forced to delay the opening, planned for April or May, until near the end of last year.

“When it blew up, it was like—Oh my gosh, I’m just going to have to do as much as I can and go for it, we’re just going to have to keep going,” said Roche, explaining how she decided to pursue her dream while many businesses were shutting down and closing their doors.

“I took a couple of jobs over the summer to stay afloat until we could open,” she said. “It was stressful for everybody, but it feels good to be on my feet. It makes me feel better because I know what I want, and it’s a lot easier than having people to work for.”

When asked what it was like to established a woman-owned business and not have to answer to a boss, she replied, “It feels a lot better in my brain.”

Roche hails from the Roche clan of Callicoon, where her uncles Maurice “Rease” and Mickey Roche ran Roche’s Garage for more than 50 years.

“My great-grandfather came over from Ireland when he was a kid,” she recalled. Local history recounts that the Roches once fielded a softball team that posted a national championship, and Rease was elected to the Softball Hall of Fame for his support and passion for the sport.

Asked why decided to call the coffee shop Rease’s Cup, Roche explained that her mother came up with the idea of naming it after her uncle, with a side reference to the famous peanut butter and chocolate candy treat.

“More than a while back, my mother and I were joking about owning a restaurant one day. She’s the one who came up with Rease’s Cup, and I just loved it,” said the younger generation Roche.

 “I always wanted to have Rease in the name. He was my greatest inspiration,” she added. “A hard work ethic, community-minded... I really wanted to do something with his name, it fit so perfectly well.”

Assisted by her partner in coffee and boyfriend Paul Degan, the duo work like dervishes preparing the meals, setting them up for take-out, or delivering them, masked and social distanced, to patrons at the café’s widely spaced tables.

“We serve a lot of working-class people, a lot of guys going to and from their jobs. A lot of older folks come in, which is wonderful, and we’ve just started to get some out-of-towners. But our biggest clientele right now is the working man, grabbing sandwiches to go,” replied Roche when asked to provide a thumbnail sketch of who comes through the door.

Rease’s Cup offers a tasty variety of breakfast platters, omelets and a build-your-own-sandwich option during both breakfast and lunch hours.

As an added enticement, they “proudly serve Moka Origins coffee and expresso.”

The interior décor features a rather homespun eclectic mix of country and hip: cutting-edge art by William Landau, placards such as “Welcome to our neck of the woods” and the aforementioned “Is there life before coffee?” A vintage GMC truck sign from Roche’s Garage hangs among pictures of colorfully whimsical cows, and, of course, the café is complete with a display of coffee cups.

“A lot of it came from my own house,” said Roche. “I’m a big collector of store signs, funky different looking stuff. I took my rustic, woodsy stuff, brought it over here, and it worked out.”

Among the many testimonials posted on the café’s Facebook page is one from Sullivan County Clerk Russell Reeves.

“Sheriff Mike Schiff and I went and had lunch at the new place in North Branch... Go out and visit the owner of Rease’s Cup. The food and coffee were great!”

Rease’s Cup, located at 60 County Rte. 122, is open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays) from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For information or to place a takeout order, call 845/482-2500. Rease’s Cup can also be contacted at reasescup@hotmail.com, or visit them on Facebook and Instagram.

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