Photo by Sydney Cromwell.
Teresa White and Craig Casiday pose inside their new Customs Cafe location in Riverchase.
Coffee-ol-ogy established itself at the Hoover Public Library with an original concept: a menu based on a different culture’s cuisine each month. So when the cafe outgrew its space, co-owners Teresa White and Craig Casiday decided they wanted to stay close to the loyal following they had built.
“It was a step forward that we were happy to make,” White said.
The cafe, now restyled as Customs Cafe, relocated to a Riverchase storefront at 1845 Montgomery Highway in November. The pair did most of the remodeling work themselves, and White said she was pleased with how the finished design — including clocks set to different time zones and airplane food carts near the entrance — match the international vibe they were looking for.
“The travel theme — it was better than I could have imagined,” White said.
Their new space near Hobby Lobby has both better visibility and more space than their library location. Casiday, who handles the menu, said the kitchen in Customs Cafe’s new storefront is as big as the entire Coffee-ol-ogy cafe. Managing a larger kitchen with more equipment and moving parts has its challenges, but Casiday said it also gives him the opportunity to add more variety to the menu.
The rotation of cuisines each month — including Polish, Moroccan, Creole and more — is still the same, but some favorite dishes have been shifted to Customs Cafe’s daily menu to stick around for longer than a month at a time. Casiday said this includes about four entrees that will change periodically, some sandwiches, appetizers and desserts.
Casiday said it will be possible, no matter the featured cuisine of the month, to come in and have variety such as a German appetizer, a French entrée and a Cuban dessert.
“It covers more of what we do. It’s not as separate as it used to be,” Casiday said. “You can kind of eat from around the world in one sitting.”
The meals moving to the daily menu will be replaced with new foods in their featured months’ menus. Casiday said these new meals will be introduced each month — German food in February, Creole in March, Swedish in April and so forth. He said he believes the changing menus keep a sense of momentum and excitement in the cafe. “You don’t have to get bored with them.”
For each month’s new menu, Casiday said, they also hope to bring more cultural elements into Customs Cafe. This includes the music and language of each featured region, as well as presentations from local groups with international connections. Casiday said he would like to create a dinner club where customers can learn to make a dish, discuss its history and cultural significance and sit down and enjoy a meal together.
White and Casiday held monthly educational programs at the library, and with their new space “we’re just hoping to broaden that,” Casiday said.
White said with the move, they also have discussed the possibility of swapping one of their current menus with a new country’s cuisine. They regularly have customers try to convince them to add cuisine such as Thai, South American and Central American foods to the rotation.
“Two to three times a month, someone makes a suggestion,” White said. “It’s delightful. And we let them present their case.”
However, White said they may not change their lineup because each month is already popular with regulars. In fact, when they began the global cuisine idea about six years ago, White said there were about 30 different countries represented, and the most popular became the current rotation.
“The cuisines themselves have a following, so it would be hard to choose which one to let go,” Casiday said.
Customs Cafe is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information, call 987-0176 or go to customscafe.com.