A restaurant and an instrument of hope

“You are not here just to make a living, you are here to allow the world to live more broadly, with greater vision, with a finer mind of hope and accomplishment. You are here to make the world richer, and you get poorer if you forget the race.
– Woodrow Wilson

Hope Café and Tea House owner Matt Cullipher and his wife Mary Christin Cullipher. (PHOTO CREDIT: HOPE Café AND TEA HOUSE)

SALINA – When Matthew Cullipher opened Hope Café and Tea House in 2017, he had two missions he was trying to accomplish. The first mission was to provide a variety of delicious foods and drinks that replicated the taste and feel of countries such as Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Italy. This mission was easily accomplished with more to come. But as a non-profit entity, Hope Café’s second mission was to help children and adults living in extreme poverty. While this mission may never be fully realized, Cullipher and his organization have dramatically improved the lives of people less fortunate than most of us.

The obvious question for most people is what would drive him to undertake such a huge mission in countries he did not know. It all started in 1999 when Cullipher traveled to Peru for his first visit with a religious group. They went there to build a new school for children in the area. During this mission, Cullipher was overwhelmed by the extreme poverty he witnessed, the lack of food and water, and the lack of educational opportunities for the people who lived there. Former NBA basketball player Magic Johnson once said, “All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes. in them. That someone turned out to be Matt Cullipher. Since that trip, Matt has dedicated himself to helping people in several countries overcome poverty and the lack of educational opportunities through the proceeds generated by the Hope Café in collaboration with The People Project.

Founded by Cullipher over 15 years ago, The People Project is a Syracuse-based charity whose mission is to provide humanitarian support to families living in poverty around the world. It has helped more than 400,000 families in 15 countries around the world. The People Project provides funding and support for humanitarian needs around the world, including food and water programs, orphanages, schools and churches. This important program has distributed over a million dollars in aid around the world. Cullipher opened the Hope Café to help fund the People Project’s mission while supporting families in the Syracuse area affected by drug addiction and homelessness. The Hope Café donates 100 percent of the profits from its operations to The People Project to support programs in New York State and around the world. Desmond Tutu once said that “the hope is to be able to see that there is light despite all darkness”. The Hope Café shines a light on the world. Together with the People Project, it has helped people in 13 countries and provided more than 600,000 meals.


How do they generate the money to support these projects? Let’s start with the fact that the cafe has a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere. The staff start by offering drinks that are not readily available in other cafes. It starts with Emoliente, which is a Peruvian classic offered by vendors on the streets of Peru. It is made from roasted barley and herbs, and may also contain flax seeds, dried horsetail herbs, alfalfa leaves, plantain leaves, chamomile, or lemongrass. It can also be sweetened with citrus fruits, honey, and cinnamon and has many health benefits. The cafe also offers a variety of mild coffee that smells as rich and wonderful as it tastes.

The cuisine of Hope Café is a fusion of American, Italian and Peruvian dishes. Matt’s favorite item on the menu is the breakfast sandwich, as it contains a variety of flavors that are perfectly blended. The cafe offers homemade soups, main courses, and desserts that you probably won’t find anywhere else in central New York City. These offerings include delicious empanadas, Liège waffles (named after the city in Belgium), baclava and a Jack Daniel’s chicken sandwich.

The Hope Café faced challenges along the way and was able to get help navigating them.

“I can really say that without the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College (OCC), we would have had a much harder time starting this restaurant. There were so many interruptions and speed bumps to go through that we couldn’t have done it without the help of SBDC advisor Mark Pitonzo. He helped us formulate the strategy and bring that strategy to life, ”Cullipher said. “Mark helped us identify the resources that were available to us in the community, create the business plan, structure the financial projections, including cash flow analysis and income statements, and helped us assisted with our requests for financial assistance from programs offered by the federal government. because of the pandemic. “

If you visit the Hope Café, you will not only enjoy the delicious food and drink, but also dine for purpose, knowing that it gives hope to those in need across the world with every meal.

Tim Robbins’ character in “The Shawshank Redemption” Andy Dufresne said: “Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best thing, and good things never die.” And the Hope Café is one of the best things in downtown New York.

The Hope Café is located at 920 Old Liverpool Road in the town of Salina. In addition to dining on site, it offers curbside pickup and delivery. For more information, you can visit the cafe on Facebook or on its website: www.hopecafeandtea.wixsite.com/hopecafe.

Business Advice from the Advisor: A big vision can take you a long way in pursuing your dream of becoming a business owner. Things will invariably go wrong on your way to a successful business venture. It is imperative to keep in mind the great vision because it will allow you to find a successful path and help you overcome the “potholes” that you will need to avoid this path. It won’t always be the direction you planned or anticipated, but your grand vision becomes your guiding light, which in turn helps you navigate the dark. Always remember that perseverance must accompany your grand vision because you will need it to keep moving forward. Sometimes when things go “wrong” on your path to achieving your business vision, you need to make a commitment to make the persistence necessary to move forward, regardless of the discomfort and fear surrounding them. next steps. ??

Mark Pitonzo is a State Certified Business Advisor at the Onondaga SBDC Satellite Office located at Onondaga Community College @Liverpool. Contact him at [email protected]

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