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Iconic Café Domenico celebrates 20th anniversary

Thomas Caputo
Staff writer
Posted 7/22/22

An iconic spot in south Utica will celebrate two decades of being open for business.

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Iconic Café Domenico celebrates 20th anniversary


UTICA — An iconic spot in south Utica will celebrate two decades of being open for business.

Café Domenico, 2011 Genesee St., was established on July 22, 2002 by owners Orin and Kim Domenico. Described as “Utica’s genuine java joint,” Café Domenico serves coffee, espresso, teas, lattes and chai, as well as pastries from local bakeries every weekday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What sets Café Domenico apart from other cafés is the unique atmosphere and character of the business that, the owners say, can’t be replicated.

“Most corporate places try to erase personality, so it’ll be the same no matter where you go,” said Kim Domenico. “We didn’t want ours to be the same as anywhere else. Everything on the walls is a reflection of our interests, our family, even our ancestors are on the wall.”

“The world is better and more fun and more interesting when people are putting their personalities out there in some way,” she added.

The walls of the café are covered in art, photographs and vinyl records that all showcase the unique lifestyles of the Domenico family and provide an artistic atmosphere the customers keep coming back for.

“It’s always been envisioned as more than simply a business,” said Orin Domenico. “We wanted it to stand on the quality that we put out. From the beginning it also had another intention which was kind of a subversive one, which was to bring people together. For a long time we had no Wi-Fi. We want to invite people to be face to face with one another.”

Orin and Kim Domenico, now in their 70’s, mostly work behind the scenes, while their daughter, Molly, has stepped up as a manager.

“Our customers really let you know how much they appreciate you,” Molly Domenico said.

“And they really appreciate her,” Kim Domenico added.

Today, exactly 20 years after the business first opened, Café Domenico will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a free event. From 3 to 9 p.m. the café will remain open and provide beverages, as well as food from local businesses Mangia Macrina’s Wood Fired Pizza, Slice Pizzeria and Utica Bread.

During the celebration, local bands will perform next door at The Other Side, an art venue also owned by the Domenico family. The lineup features bands that have previously performed at the café and bands that have a personal relationship with the Domenico family:

  • Jay Schnitt — 3 p.m.
  • The Dovetones — 4 p.m.
  • The Jimmy Wolf Trio — 5 p.m.
  • The Real Burnouts — 6 p.m.
  • Nook and Cranny — 7 p.m.
  • The Julie Falatico/Rick Montalbano Trio — 8 p.m.

Reflecting on the two decades of running the family business, the Domenico family takes pride in being able to keep the business going and providing an open-minded and accepting environment for artists, the younger generation and marginalized communities.

“This was a dream starting this, definitely started in a dream, just a picture of what we wanted,” Kim Domenico said. “I really think people need to dream and work on making those into realities. It’s very hard work but very important work. We all want to be in a country where people are actually following their dreams and making the world a better place.”


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