Black Dot: Your Local Spot for Coffee and Community
Black Dot is a multi-faceted business, which though it has a .cafe domain aspires to be so much more – it’s a local meeting spot, a mercantile shop, a performance space, and an art gallery. “We didn’t want to get stuck in one lane or in a box, we wanted to have the freedom to do a lot of different things with the business. The name is intentional: we called it Black Dot, we didn’t call it Black Dot Cafe or Black Dot Coffee,” says Sal Carbone, co-owner. The name and the logo have a minimalist elegance to them, which allows them to accomplish their goal of letting the product speak for itself.
“Our passion really lies in hosting and creating experiences for people,” says Sal. “We’re able to combine our interests – design, art, food, and drink. We connect with the local community, creating a space for them, and supporting local artists with a mix of curated art and retails. And we love coffee.”
Carbone and his partner and co-owner Margrit Wenzel, both grew up in the mid-Hudson Valley—he is from Poughkeepsie, she is from Kingston. Their collective careers in all aspects of hospitality including hotels, fine dining, and cocktail bars – including local favorites Scribners Catskill Lodge in Hunter and Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, fueled a dream of owning and operating their own space. For years they searched and planned, initially in their hometown of Kingston, yet they weren’t quite ready at the beginning of their journey, and by the time they were, Kingston was already saturated with other good coffee shops.
They decided to look elsewhere, and on a recommendation, visited the historic little hamlet of Stone Ridge and the Main Street location that was the former home of Carthaigh Coffee. “The space found us.” says Margrit “How it all came together felt magical. We were very open-minded about the direction of Black Dot and it allowed things to find us. Our journey has been long in a way since we started researching opening a space, with so many different iterations.”
Their commitment to design is evident throughout the space, which they designed and renovated themselves. Each has a background in design – Margrit is a photographer, and Sal is a Graphic Designer. They designed the space with minimalism and simplicity in mind, showcasing the wood and materials, and not overwhelming the space with color with the exception of the live plants. Margrit’s photography background came into play, as she conceived the all-white theme as the perfect setting for a photo, reminiscent of a gallery space.
Building long-lasting relationships with the creative and vendor communities is a core tenet of Black Dot’s business. “We think that buying from local businesses and makers has a positive impact on the community. When people buy from our friends, it helps them and helps us.” The Black Dot space serves as a tour of Hudson Valley small businesses. Their single source coffee comes from Big Mouth Roasters in Beacon. Some of the serving dishes and pottery is made in Kingston, by the ceramicists at L’impatience. The space has a small, and impeccably curated retail selection of local brands, and features pastries from Boiceville’s Bread Alone, juice from Hudson’s Little Rico, floral arrangements from Kingston’s Hops Petunia, and a food magazine, Digest, produced by the head roaster at Big Mouth. Sal and Margrit are proud to source and showcase these local brands they believe in, feeling that each adds to the brand’s
The art within the space is local as well. Kingston artist Kat Howard created a custom piece that is prominently featured- Unruly II of fiber art, all black, lines drawn on paper. Black Dot also proudly hosted a show with 2nd Graders who, after studying Basquiat and Wiley, created portraits of family members. The show was originally supposed to display at a gallery, but with COVID the Cafe served as a safe and nearby destination to visit.
So what’s next for Black Dot? In addition to single-handedly running the business over the past 10 months, Margrit and Sal are also renovating their home in Kingston. They want to continue to expand Black Dot as a brand and business, with a dream of growing the business to include another location. They want to continue their local collaborations, offering more specialty and local products and they’re exploring producing pop-up dinners in the space. They’re exploring carrying local wine and beer in the space with extended hours, and they want to showcase more artist shows.
All Photos: Harrison Lubin