As has been the case with many local businesses this year, Rob McGee, owner of coffee truck Coliseum Coffee Works, and Doug Robinson, owner of Carbondale restaurant Keeper’s Quarters, have gotten creative with keeping their doors open and their customers happy.
Beignets & Coffee, which runs every Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Keeper’s Quarters in Carbondale, offers fresh pastries and savory breakfast sandwiches handmade by Robinson along with made-to-order espresso-based drinks, matcha and hot tea from McGee.
McGee, who initially operated Coliseum Coffee Works as a mobile coffee shop, was set to resume business in April, but with less foot traffic due to most people working from home, Coliseum was put on hold. Similarly, indoor dining restrictions forced Robinson to temporarily close the kitchen at Keeper’s Quarters. However, in late August, the two decided to team up and provide a place for weekend morning treats in downtown Carbondale.
“I think the connection was pretty obvious between us. And I was in here in all the time prior to COVID. I told Doug, let me know if you ever need anyone to come in and do coffee. Then two days later we started,” said McGee.
Patrons wearing masks and staying socially distant are instructed to order at the bar from a menu of to-go pastries, sweets and biscuit sliders, where they also place their order for Coliseum Coffee Works beverages. On one side of the restaurant, Robinson is hard at work in the open concept kitchen, while on the opposite side, McGee is set up with his state-of-the-art coffee bar, churning out caffeinated accompaniments.
“This is the best option right now. Come on in, we’re not too packed. People can go outside, we can talk at a distance, and everybody has their space,” said Robinson.
Beignets are sold in three-packs and come out of the kitchen piping hot, covered in powdered sugar and nestled in a brown paper bag. The light, pillowy texture of the deep-fried square-shaped confections are complimented by a variety of flavor options, which may include Dutch cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg or raspberry. Selections change from week to week for beignets as well as the cream puffs made by Robinson. Round, fresh-baked pâte à choux dough is filled with buttercream flavors like mocha and raspberry and are perfectly sized for two or three sweet bites. Other treats on sale each weekend include coffee cake with crumb topping and cookies including chocolate chip, peanut butter, and double chocolate chip.
For a savory selection, biscuit sliders have made their way onto the menu for a bit of variety. As with the pastries, the offerings change each weekend, but past flavor combinations have featured brisket, spinach and lemony mustard, smoked pork, ham and pickle, and potato squash hashbrowns with mixed berry jam, all topped with a serving of cheesy scrambled eggs.
Coliseum Coffee Works offers a variety of hot and cold espresso drinks, matcha lattes, and hot teas to pair with the food menu items. McGee is meticulous about selecting the highest quality coffee and tea and offers oat, soy and almond milks as dairy alternatives for his patrons. Specialty drinks like the iced honey cinnamon latte offer a cool pick-me-up while matcha lattes, made up of green tea concentrate powder and lightly sweetened with vanilla, are warm, fragrant and comforting. The bold flavors of Coliseum’s straight espresso, Americanos and lattes all couple nicely with the Keeper’s Quarters confections to create a harmonic interaction of food and drink.