What do a husband and wife do for their next act after her job is downsized and he sells his business? Open a restaurant, of course. For Café Xpresso owners Marie and Bob Schlump, who have been married for 28 years, the food industry has been a central part of their lives. Marie formerly owned several Subway franchises, and Bob operated a food truck in Bridgeport, as Marie says, “before it was trendy.”
“My company at the time downsized,” she continues, “and I was out of a job. We just wanted to do coffee!” It turned out, of course, to be much more. The couple traveled the eastern seaboard to sample cafés and eateries, investigating elements to incorporate into their own. “We did a lot of research before we opened,” Bob says. “We took the best of it and put it together,” Marie says. “We didn’t want to serve anything we wouldn’t eat, and the kitchen ended up being bigger than we thought it would be.”
In that kitchen, every pastry and cookie is made from small-batch recipes, and they serve coffee that is roasted especially for Café Xpresso. It didn’t take long for Café Xpresso to establish itself in town, and the intimately small dining area quickly began to bustle with a loyal following.
This attention to detail and a commitment to customer service quickly paid dividends: Café Xpresso was voted by Newtown’s Chamber of Commerce as 2016’s New Business of the Year. The coffee-themed tchotchkes that decorate the café’s interior – gifts to the Schlumps from their customers – reflect the community’s agreement with that accolade.
As a supplement to their focus on small-batch food preparation, the Schumps work with local farms and purveyors to source their restaurant. Bob, who oversees purchasing, knows his customers appreciate the quality in sourcing the best products the region can offer. “Our customers know the difference between what we’re serving and ‘industrial food,’” Bob says. “We use a lot of different vendors, because we are looking for the best ingredients,” Marie adds. “We can’t have just one truck here to deliver everything we need.”
Along with their chef, Bob and Marie developed every item on the menu with unique flavors in mind. They meticulously train the staff on how to prepare dishes to best highlight individual ingredients, and the Korean Roast Beef sandwich is a perfect example of this craftsmanship and care. Like all of the meats served at Café Xpresso, the beef is roasted in-house. The kimchi is made locally and paired with pickles. The result is a sandwich that delights all the senses – salty, sweet, sour, and savory – and the artisan bread’s crust offers just a hint of resistance before collapsing into the tender crumb and perfectly roasted beef.
This locally minded artistry extends, of course, to the unique drink selections, including the Honey Cinnamon Bliss, a mix of espresso, honey, cinnamon syrup, and steamed milk from Arethusa Farm in Litchfield that’s topped with just enough whipped cream to keep things mildly sinful. Beyond food and drink, Café Xpresso also offers gift baskets, pastry trays, and catering (including wedding cakes), helping to ensure that their delectable treats can follow diners all the way home.