Todd Daughenbaugh said he needed a fresh start after working more than 20 years behind a desk.
Hence the name of his business, Fresh Start Cafe and Bakery, 24 N. Sandusky St., in downtown Delaware. The 2,700-square-foot eatery features a selection of muffins, cookies and cakes and specialty coffees from its Columbus-based partner Crimson Cup.
Daughenbaugh and his wife, Leigh, have been Delaware residents since 2002, but had commuted to Columbus for work until last year. For more than 10 years, he not only wanted to have his own business but become more connected with the community.
Food made sense for the family since Leigh ran a catering service from their home, while taking care of their two sons, Joshua and Ryan.
The cafe’s name has several meanings both personal and commercial for Daughenbaugh, who wants to provide quality products and exceptional customer service.
It’s “a fresh start to your day, and a fresh start to my life,” he said.
After more than four months of renovations, the couple opened the business in mid-July with some success.
“So far, it’s working,” Daughenbaugh said.
“We’ve got quite a few regulars.”
Leigh said several customers include Ohio Wesleyan University students and faculty, of whom take advantage of the cafe seating area in the front and back to do school work with their laptops.
“They’re my favorite business that’s new to the downtown,” said Amy Butcher, an assistant English professor at OWU.
While she comes out to the cafe for its quiet space a couple times a week, Butcher started an “open-mic” reading series with Fresh Start where student-writers read from their works. More than 40 students participated in the first session, she said, while Election Day may have caused low turn-out for the second session last Friday.
But the partnership has created a bridge between the downtown and OWU campus, Butcher added.
Other ways Daughenbaugh has become more involved with the community through his business include donations of leftover food to Grace Clinic Delaware, 40 S. Franklin St., and Andrew’s House, 39 W. Winter St.
“We want to make sure nothing goes in the trash or gets wasted,” he said.
On the flip side, the Daughenbaughs take pride of their eight employees: Mandy Larrabee, Jonathan Oberg, Anthony Desrosiers, Rachel Reisingar, their son, Ryan, assistant baker Maria Saniel-Banrey, head baker Lynette Lawson and her husband, Ron Lawson.
“It’s been a great team,” Daughenbaugh said.
Ron, who manages the cafe team, has worked for Starbucks over the past eight years throughout the world including California and New Zeland. Coffee, he said, has been a part of his family’s journey. Ron said the staff get more time to know the customers compared with Starbucks.
“Here we have time to talk about our product,” he said.
And his wife is a self-taught baker, Leigh said, who honed her skills in New Zealand, while Saniel-Banrey gained classical training from culinary school.
“They really complement each other,” she said.
Going into the new year, Daughenbaugh said he plans to add some rotating artwork of local artists for the seating area in the back. Also, they are looking to expand their menu and for other ways to get involved with the city.
“We don’t want to get stale, no pun intended,” he said.