Every year for our birthdays my dad takes the family out to a special dinner. This past winter mine rolled around on a Wednesday. By a stroke of luck we all had the morning off and decided to do brunch instead of dinner, opting to meet at one of our favorite locations, the Oak Leaf Cafe and Bakery.
The cafe is nestled within Oak Hill Bulk Foods on Route 14A, three miles south of Penn Yan. The ambience is great with seasonal decorations on the table centers, inspirational artwork for sale by the entrance, one entire wall covered with a mural of vineyards overlooking Keuka Lake, and the delicious aroma of coffee brewing behind the counter.
We are not the only ones who enjoy the cafe. Since 2009 when the cafe was added onto the bulk foods store many people have used it as a convenient meeting point between neighboring towns, others grab lunch on the go, and yet others make it a special stop while in the area. Not only is the coffee good, but the baristas are friendly, and the tranquility of the environment entices patrons to slow down and enjoy their drinks.
“The backbone of a cafe is the coffee,” says president and owner Phil Riehl. The Oak Leaf has chosen the beans of locally owned Master’s Touch Coffee Roasters for this reason. The cafe offers bakery-made cookies, muffins, and fry pies to compliment the perfect cup of joe or specialty coffee. Also available are breakfast and lunch menu items made from scratch with selections ranging from the Seneca Sunrise Sandwich to the Wildwood Panini, or my personal favorite, the perfectly seasoned Buffalo Chicken Wrap.
The cafe was years in the making and Riehl half-jokingly says that the concept was partly driven “to have a place for old men to sit while their wives are shopping,” but also as an inviting place for patrons to relax and visit. He has more plans for the development of the cafe for the future and is considering ways to expand to reach his goals.
While you are visiting, you may be interested in perusing the book racks or getting some groceries. During the summer months, a playground is available for children to play on and you can savor the flavor of the season with a b-b-q chicken dinner cooked on-site.
It’s very possible that you may see me around. If you do, feel free to say hello and tell me how you happened to stop in. I love to hear people’s stories about how they came to meet at the Oak Leaf Cafe.
The Oak Leaf Cafe and Bakery and Oak Hill Bulk Foods, Inc. are located at 3173 State Route 14A, Penn Yan, NY 14527. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday, 7 to 4 p.m. Store hours are 8 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit oakhillbulkfoods.com, or call 315-536-0836.
Story and photo by Gabrielle L. Wheeler