Local Cafe’s Mission Shines During Dining Weeks Local Cafe's Mission Shines During Dining Weeks

Hope Cafe's new location participates in Downtown Syracuse Dining Weeks deals.

Brooke Borzymowski: On the corner of East Genessee and Townsend Street is the newest location of Hope Cafe and Teahouse. The restaurant that opened this past August is in its first Downtown Syracuse Dining Weeks, which run from March first to the fourteenth. While cashflow might drive other participating restaurants, charity is what drives Hope Cafe’s goals not only for Dining Weeks but for the whole business. CEO Matthew Cullipher began his humanitarian journey when he started The People Project in 2004.

Matthew Cullipher: Our only goal was to support one school in Peru that we were building and pay the staff and give the kids food and whatnot. And it eventually has turned into a 13 country mission.

Borzymowski: The People Project’s mission has led to the creation of Hope Cafe, which never takes but only gives.

Cullipher: Once you know, rent, electricity, food, repairs or anything like that is paid and staff is paid, every single penny goes back to the charity.

Borzymowski: In Hope Cafe, African, Peruvian, American, and even Italian influences combine for an atmosphere and cuisine that match the spirit of their mission – to just be people helping people. Hope Cafe is one of Cullipher’s many businesses that exist to support the People Project’s programs, which have already touched hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

Cullipher: It’s a pretty humbling experience honestly to be able to actually impact people in a way that they’ll never forget as long as they live.

Borzymowski: Brooke Borzymowski, NCC News.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Italian ciabatta bread, the traditional American egg and cheese and a Peruvian sauce combined on one breakfast sandwich.  Throw in some African music and a South American ambience, and you would probably find yourself in the lounge of Hope Cafe and Teahouse.

The cafe’s East Genesee Street installation is participating in this year’s edition of Downtown Syracuse Dining Weeks. The restaurant deals kick off on Friday, March 1, and they run until March 14.

Matthew Cullipher, who is the CEO of Hope Cafe, wants the weeks’ events to bring exposure to the location that opened in August 2023.  He said, “If you’re not paying attention, you could easily miss it, and so I’m hoping that people see the list and realize, ‘Wait a second, Hope Cafe is downtown now. This is great.'”

While the location is new, that does not mean locals are unfamiliar with the business’s cuisine and mission.  Liverpool’s Hope Cafe has boasted a unique menu since its opening in 2017, and its humanitarian goals date back to long before then.

Cullipher went on a church trip to Peru in 1999 that shaped his perspective on poverty.  “I thought I knew [poverty] and then you go and you see people living in Adobe huts that literally melt when it rains,” he said.  “I went to a family of 10, they had four potatoes. That was their entire meal for the day.”

From then on, Cullipher vowed to do his part in helping those in need.  This led him to his 2005 creation of The People Project, an organization that has touched hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

“Kenya, for example, we start off with 78 students. There’s almost 1,200 now and, I don’t know, 2,526 staff members. So it’s amazing to see how it impacts the lives of so many people,” said Cullipher.

The People Project has implemented programs that give people water, education, food, religion and more in 13 countries.

Back in Central New York, the contribution to the charity comes from the Hope Cafe locations and Cullipher’s other businesses.  One hundred percent of the cafe’s profits go towards The People Project, and the community is fully behind the monetary efforts, Christmas gifts, and even baby showers that Cullipher initiates for those in need.

“It’s a pretty humbling experience, honestly, to be able to actually impact people in a way that they’ll never forget as long as they live,” Cullipher said.

In the midst of Downtown Syracuse Dining Weeks, the food remains creative, deals come and go, but the mission stays the same – continue to be people helping people.

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