You’d expect the pandemic to have made it difficult for Toasted to get up and running, but COVID-19 may have actually helped the café find success and expand to a second location in Larkinville.
“I would say it was a little bit of a nightmare, in the beginning,” says owner Adria Campana. “Obviously not an ideal situation. But we had no choice other than to keep our doors open and cross our fingers.”
Opening just a couple weeks before the New York State lockdowns, the original Toasted started extremely busy and staff were overwhelmed. When the lockdowns hit, they acted as a sort of slow-motion effect – decelerating business for Toasted to a more manageable level.
“At some point, we realized, ok, this is kind of working for us,” Campana says. “We were way too busy in the beginning to formulate a system. So the pandemic helped us slow down and achieve our goals on the business side of things. I like to talk about the ‘Toasted Way’ and that system we developed during the pandemic really helped us to operate better.”
Serving pour-over coffees, espresso drinks, tea, smoothies, overnight oats, and a variety of toasts, the café became a hit by serving the type of modern fare that’s in short supply in Clarence Center. Even with all these options, the café became mostly known for one thing in particular: avocado toast.
“It’s a curse, 100 percent. I almost wish I never put avocado on the menu!” Campana laughs. “But I know we do a good job with it. All of our avocado toast options are really, really good. Some would say they’re the best in Buffalo, but I’m not gonna say that.”
The new Larkinville location of Toasted will offer all of the same menu items as the original. With some staff members working in both locations, fans of the original location will be able to see some familiar faces.
“Some of our regulars, we only knew with their facemasks on,” Campana says. “When they started coming in without their masks on, we were like, ‘Oh my god. That’s what you look like!’”
The pandemic, for the most part, appears to be mostly behind us. We’re all getting adjusted to the post-pandemic normal, and that can mean some uncomfortable readjustments. Some of us are going back to the office, while others are finally getting a chance to job search after two years of uncertainty.
With the opening of a new Toasted location in Larkinville, Campana is one of those people who’s ready to move on to new possibilities.
“I grew up a Northtowns girl and that’s where I’m comfortable,” she says. “But I feel like you have to make yourself uncomfortable to move forward and be successful. Opening a second Toasted is a huge accomplishment. I just feel very blessed that we’re able to do this, and I get the opportunity to become a downtown girl.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Daily 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
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