Cafe Domenico

Say thank you to Cafe Domenico for 21 years and 8 months as Utica's Genuine Java Joint!

Click on "Write a new entry" below to share your thoughts, memories and feelings with the Cafe's closure.

Read what others have written!

Good luck to Becca Gleason as she embarks on her new journey to carry on the Cafe tradition as Emerson Ave Coffee in Utica's Uptown neighborhood.

Thank You Cafe Domenico!

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28 entries.
Francesco Bonifazi wrote on April 24, 2024 at 9:57 am
Best of luck to the Domenico's and Ms. Gleason on their new journeys.

I had the pleasure of performing at The Other Side several years ago, and it was to a packet house of warm Uticans. I had some of my old musician friends from Utica join in with me including Gary Mazza, John Karwacki, Monk Roe and other fine musicians. We ripped it up that night!

We mostly performed Jazz standards, but I started the night with a solo performance of my original music. Few Uticans had every hear my world-champion whistling before.

I am also older now and not touring, but I remember some gigs more than others. The Other Side for sure, and one at Felicia's in Ithaca, as well as a festival in Camerino, Italy.

I hope Ms. Gleason will continue to book The Other Side with locals and touring artists like myself.

Funny thing is that I grew up on Emerson Ave and went to many movies at the Uptown. The closest place to get a coffee was across the street at Dandee Donuts where police seemed to live at all day. That coffee wasn't anything like Domenico's excellent brew.

I'll be back in Utica July 12th for my late mother, Stella Scarano's art exhibit in Downtown at the 4Elements Gallery. I'll be sure to stop by the new Emerson Ave coffee house for a brew and a chat.


Francesco Bonifazi
Dean wrote on April 22, 2024 at 6:13 pm
When I was first told I thought it was an April Fools joke an eclipse of the sun thankfully the sun shines again blessings to all
Dave Gordon wrote on April 22, 2024 at 7:37 am
I remember when the Domenico's opened this gem just after Café Le Reve closed. I have the greatest memories of this place including good company, the smell of robust coffee brewing, the sound of the milk frother, the taste of rich, warm chocolate chip cookies, the faint/muffled creak of the wood floor as you made your way to the counter, the sound of jazz music playing so subtly in the background, the exquisite art on the walls and the familiar faces that greeted you with kindness even in their most stressful me the Cafe was like a slice of heaven that God commissioned the Dominicos to run. I can still see the morning sun, the dark skies of rain, and the piles of snow from their front windows looking out. The coffee warmed your pallette but the café warmed your soul. Their blood, sweat and tears could be felt everytime you entered those doors because nothing was as more consistent, genuine and full of pride than this oasis. My only regret, is not having been able to visit one last time before it closed. May God bless this great family and their journey ahead.
Suzanne Taylor wrote on April 16, 2024 at 9:02 pm
This is so sad! Like many other newcomers, I instantly latched onto Domenico. There was something about the cafe that reminded me of home. The decor, music, no WIFI, and cash only created an atmosphere that I remember from my younger days and that I probably won't see again. Thank you for everything. I wish you the best!
Cassandra Miller wrote on April 3, 2024 at 11:37 am
When I moved to Utica and started working at Munson, I went to Cafe Domenico every day before work. Molly's daily greeting, ready cup of coffee (for here), and fantastic outfits were the perfect way to start the day. I made some lovely connections there and am saddened to hear that the Domenicos' chapter has ended. Thank you for being one of my favorite places in Utica.
Katherine Terrell wrote on March 30, 2024 at 5:26 pm
Cafe Domenico was the first place I really felt at home after moving to the area. Kim and Orren, Nick and Molly, I can't thank you enough for everything over the years. When we lived down the street, Cafe Domenico was a second home, and our kids practically grew up there. Utica isn't going to be the same without you! Thomas, Matilda, Simon and I are going to miss dropping by and saying hello. Orren and Kim, have a wonderful retirement, and know that you've really made a difference to us and to the community!
Max Coyne wrote on March 30, 2024 at 12:07 pm
The years I spent growing up in Cafe Domenico’s were some of the best & most important of my life. The friends I made & people I’ve built connections with expand further than Emerson & Genesee. Cafe Domenico’s will forever be a part of my life even from a far.
Sadieann and Bob Spear wrote on March 28, 2024 at 8:18 am
We are saddened to learn this news but truly happy for Orin and Kim. They and the cafe have been such a bright spot for us, especially in the early years before we headed south. To be surrounded by artwork and classical jazz and sometimes piano tunes with Tony Mandour was special. We will look forward to the new Emerson Coffee Shop this summer. Wishing the Domenico family the very best in retirement!
Julia Galime Cooper wrote on March 23, 2024 at 4:22 pm
Cafe Domenico has always been my favorite establishment in Utica. As a small child, I loved the Village Toy Shop. As a kid, the areas up the stairs were mountains leading to awe- the secret spot under the stairs, a magical trip into endless imagination. In my mind, the toy shop secretly transformed overnight into an equally magical place, especially to Utica teens just wanting to hang and be cool. Some of my fondest high school memories are of sitting with friends, watching the Lomeo Brothers play from the upper level. As a young teen I can recall countless evenings at the cafe playing scrabble, twenty questions, having best guitar player arguments; as we grew a bit older, listening to Brazil 66, blues origins, and jazz; thinking about creative writing, art, Doubly Mad; having envy for the cool baristas; and as I aged more, the cafe became the best place to grade essays with a paradoxical standard order of detox tea and the strongest and most delicious espresso ever in hand.

What is it that Cafe Domenico seemed to emit and give to so many of us over these years? A bit of Utica soul. Cafe Domenico spoke to people's souls and with its language, it had a soul itself. I am so happy that I was able to pass this bit of soul on to my two kids who too have had the joy of playing in the secret spot under the stairs. Although it brings tears to my eyes knowing they will not have the same Cafe Domenico that I had much longer, perhaps their early memories of the cafe will live on and grow to magical proportions in their minds in the way childhood imagination performs its best work.

Thank you so much to the Domenico family for giving Utica such a welcoming, soulful spot for nearly twenty-two years. Cafe Domenico kept a huge facet of Utica's creativity, artistry, jazz, and soul alive. It helped shape the modern landscape of this unique city that so many of us love. I cannot imagine Utica without Cafe Domenico and am forever grateful and thankful for its existence.

May the cafe spirit live on in Emerson Ave Coffee. Love, best wishes, and support to all.

And again, an immense thank you to the Domenico family.
Mark Garner wrote on March 23, 2024 at 1:39 pm
I remember how sad we all were when the Village Toy Shop moved out of that location. But to have a neighborhood Cafe was so wonderful. As I grew older I really appreciated the fact that Cafe Domenico wasn't just some hipster hangout spot. It was a safe and fun place to take my children and the staff were always so good to the kids. I had to leave Utica for work as many of us do but will always remember the fun times we all had meeting new people and enjoying good times. You will be sorely missed. Fair winds and following seas.
Barbara wrote on March 22, 2024 at 5:12 pm
Kim, Orin, Molly, Nick - words cannot express how much your welcoming, cozy coffee shop has meant to our south Utica neighborhood these twenty plus years. When I go in for my daily iced chai, I know the people in there, I feel at home, and they know me. You have brought art, music, good conversation, good politics, an ethical grounding to all we do. I will miss everything about Cafe Domenico but I am so glad that The Other Side will still continue on and that your presence will still be felt!
Mason Bartle wrote on March 21, 2024 at 10:02 am
I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed when I, at 5 years old, heard that the Village Toy Shop was closing, and being replaced by something called a “cafe.” You can’t get Thomas the Tank Engines at a cafe!

Over the years, I slowly came to understand that coffee is better than toy trains. I remember running around in the basement before opening day while my dad was helping with floors upstairs. I remember coming in throughout elementary school to sip on some hot chocolate, taking breaks to curl up with the bear under the stairs and read. As a teenager, Domenico’s was the gathering point for my friends, and the perfect spot to do homework, play chess, listen to the musical talents of Rainbow Young, or just pick up a cup to go embark on an adventure of wandering around the city.

Thank you so much, Kim, Orin, Molly, Nick, and all of your baristas over the years, for building a place that was so comfortable, cozy, and enlightening. Cheers to the past, and cheers to the next chapter.
Linda wrote on March 21, 2024 at 9:22 am
I grew up with Café Domenico as part of my life. Many wonderful things and sad things happened to me while I spent my time there, relaxing with the delicious coffee, friendship and at home feeling it gave me. I will never forget it. I will miss it always. Thank you to the Domenico family for all the years of wonderful memories. God bless you.
Roger Frank wrote on March 21, 2024 at 4:38 am
I went in yesterday to get coffee after hearing they were closing. Signed the physical book there.
I have been going there since it opened, and had many memories made through good conversation, good coffee, and wonderful atmosphere. So many people have passed away in the last several years, now losing the place itself, just seems like the passing of an old friend.
While I understand why, and wish Orin, Kim, Molly, & Nick all the best; It saddens me still. I am grateful the place will continue on, but with any business, the new owners have their own ideas.
Seeing Tiny's close as well, together with this transition, has put a crater in the Jazz, and music community in Utica.
Greifing the change, with hopes for the future, as Bob Hope once sang: Thanks for the Memories.
Andrea wrote on March 20, 2024 at 8:14 pm
For someone who often felt like an outsider growing up, the cafe's eclectic nature crafted a space where everyone fit, a rare gem in a landscape of conformity. At Domenico’s, the labels of 'outsider' seemed to dissolve, and were replaced by the warm embrace of a community where diversity and uniqueness was not just accepted but celebrated. Some of the best conversations of my life, often with strangers, happened within the colorful walls and I will cherish them for as long as I live.

Your legacy, brewed with love and served with passion, will forever linger in the hearts of all who found solace and joy within your walls.

Thank you for creating such a beautiful space, and for filling it with so much life. You've created more than just a cafe; you've nurtured a home for the wandering spirits, for those in search of conversation, connection, and a cup of coffee that was, quite simply, unparalleled. Wishing you the best for what comes next!
Catherine Lambe wrote on March 20, 2024 at 1:36 pm
As someone who lives in the neighborhood, there is nothing more special than a local business a short walk away where you can meet with friends, family, and other community members. It is a place I have fond memories of meeting friends during high school, and now in my 30’s, it remains a gem where I stop for coffee with my dog in the mornings or bring out-of-towners who visit for the weekend. It warms my heart to see the groups of regulars enjoying their time together there; playing games, reading newspapers, doing homework, reading, or even giving my dog treats! This unique place was somewhere I could count on feeling welcomed and made me proud of living in South Utica. It’s heartbreaking to hear of it’s closing, but the memories will last. Thank you for being with us for over 20 years!
Jean Davidson wrote on March 20, 2024 at 12:37 pm
The very first time I walked into Cafe Domenico I knew I had found something extraordinary...the excellent coffee, the welcoming ambience, the very special people behind the counter. Bless you both for your vision and your dedication to making a safe and soul enriching space in South Utica. I will hold Cafe Domenico forever in my heart.
Rosario Bellassai wrote on March 19, 2024 at 5:06 pm
I've spent many a Saturday or Sunday either with Robin and/or the kids and grandkids enjoying a hot beverage and a sweet treat surrounded by amazing sights AND sounds. What sticks out in my memory the most was when Poland schools had a snow day and I took my daughter, Brienna, for some hot chocolate while the snow raged around us. It was beautiful and special; a safe place to charge up with loved ones and the arts. As bittersweet as this, our family wishes you all all the best in this new chapter of your lives. Your family has definitely touched our family in so many ways. Peace!
Pam Collins wrote on March 19, 2024 at 4:11 pm
The Domenico family has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of all age groups in our South Utica neighborhood, but especially for three women in our eighties.
I have been coming to Domenico's since it opened and have often brought out-of-town friends and family to have "meetings" in the upper room.
When COVID descended upon us, my old (and elderly 😉) friends and I were homebound. When it was finally safer and we had gotten vaccinated, we were still cautious, but decided there was one place where we could go and feel safe and welcome and have been coming to Domenico's, since.
The art and pictures, the reading cubby for kids, the friendly staff and the extended time we are allowed to sit and reminisce are precious to us and we are so sorry to see the original owners leave.
I sincerely thank you for providing such a welcoming gathering place and for contributing so much to our area's arts and culture.
Kristina Boylan wrote on March 19, 2024 at 3:12 pm
Salons, art, politics, coffee--thanks for opening your doors (multiple times!) to expand possibilities for good talk and good times in Utica. We appreciate it and hope to support Becca Gleason in carrying it on!
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