The New Way Café opened its doors on North Central Avenue barely a month ago, but owner Steve Figueroa aims to be a well-loved hangout.
He has sidewalk tables with a dog bowl outside for both owners and their pets to relax. Laptop users can enjoy free WiFi from either the tables or a sofa. A golf ball and putter stand ready for anyone who wants to play on the green carpet. And, any child who orders the red-and-blue Superman ice cream gets a free sticker.
“I like the neighborhood people," he said. "They know my name; they love my Cuban sandwiches.”
Figueroa relocated his café to 6114 N. Central Ave. in late January after starting on North Florida Avenue. He likes the small-town-in-a-big-city vibe of Seminole Heights, particularly the mix of homes, businesses and community. His café is near both Seminole Heights Elementary School and Seminole Heights United Methodist Church.
Since relocating, he said, he’s met several churchgoers and neighbors who drop in daily. “They come here every morning, pull these tables together, and have coffee,” he said.
Figueroa, 43, grew up in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn and has lived in Tampa since 2006. He has worked in the restaurant business for about 25 years, citing lessons a young mentor, Robert DeSanto, taught him years ago at a pizzeria as keys to his success: Work hard, and use quality ingredients.
“I learned that way back,” he said. “You make your profit from people coming back, not from the initial sale.”
Although his café is decorated with photos of his New York neighborhood and paraphernalia for his beloved Mets, the menu promotes the Bay area. He uses coffee from Kahwa Coffee Roasting in St. Petersburg for the lattes and other drinks, bread for the Cuban sandwiches from , and pastries from Big Julie’s Bakeshop and other vendors.
The café is hosting its first Open Mic night on Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 6-11 p.m., inviting original musicians, comics, spoken-word artists and poets to share their talents. Figueroa said he’d like to make that a regular event, provided it’s not too noisy.
“I don’t want to disturb the neighbors,” he said.
New Way Café
6114 N. Central Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604
Hours: Mon - Sat, 7:30am - 8pm; Sun, Noon - 7pm
Payments accepted: Cash, Visa and MasterCard