OREGON – It is the smells that hits you first.
The exotic coffees, the baked goods – they combine to give Hazel’s an aroma that screams café.
And that is apparently what Candace Rivera had in mind when she gave Conover Coffees & Chocolates a new name and a new location at 307 W. Washington St.
“We were just looking for a nice opportunity to do more things,” she said on a busy recent morning while making coffee and getting ready for the days catering work. “For more visibility, as well. We were like a hidden treasure over there.”
Hazel’s, named after Rivera’s daughter, opened on Feb. 2, and had its official grand opening on Feb. 16. She said the business is a full-service café that specializes in coffee drinks and handmade candies. She currently employs four people, but is looking to hire more.
Rivera said the business has been much busier in its new location downtown, which has seen a number of new businesses recently and a lot of activity. She said the support from other local businesses and local people has been great.
Sure, there is a steady stream of people stopping in for coffee and a bite to eat while they work on their computers. But the lunch crowd has been very strong, she said.
“It has been very good,” she said. “We’re usually packed.”
One thing that has brought in customers is the focus on fresh, local food, Rivera said.
“We take a lot of pride in our food,” she said.
She also has a “great, unique” partnership with the also just opened Cork & Tap next door. In fact, there is a door between the two businesses that is open when Cork & Tap is open. That means Rivera can serve her food to patrons enjoying a drink next door. She said she is also getting catering business from the event spaces at Cork & Tap.
Rivera said she has been working in café’s since she was young, and always wanted to run her own. And although she is running around the business on this busy morning, she still has time to stop and enjoy what she has accomplished so far.
“It worked out really great. Like my little dream come true.”