Tucked sweetly between the other 5 to 7 small businesses that make up Maplewood’s smallest commercial center on Ridgewood Avenue, Cedar Ridge Café turns out a menu ranging from seasonal comfort foods to vegan donuts; however, more importantly, it is the best representation of everything positive and unique that our communities embody. Popularized by their Sconewich , which draws even my most pretentious Brooklyn based pals, Cedar Ridge offers a well curated menu which at times features a Blue Cheese Burger that makes my husband’s heart sing, a Breakfast Burrito that hugs my native Southwestern Soul, and ok, some pretty fantastic salads for all you more disciplined patrons. Not to be overlooked, a highly enticing selection of Baked Goods featured daily in their pastry case includes donuts, cookies, bars, and a selection of both savory and sweet scones. Michelle Mancuso,the protege of Joe Ramaikas, is the baking mastermind behind this expert line-up of both vegan and non-vegan sweets. While I am sure you are thoroughly convinced by now that Cedar Ridge is a great place to grab a meal, or simply a coffee and a cupcake, I must assert that there is entirely different reason that I ALWAYS send new clients considering a move to SoMa for lunch there. It is my belief that Cedar Ridge is the best portrait of everything our community strives to be. It is a place where your kids can make noise while animalistically tearing into a Grilled Cheese, and they will only be met with an engaging smile and promise of a cookie from proprietor extraordinaire Paul Holtzman. It is also a place where you can craft that novel you always intended to write or tearfully hug another mother, whom you’ve never previously met, while watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech with zero judgement. It is kind, and warm, and communal. We caught up with Paul recently to ask him a few questions and gain further insight into the special environment he fosters at Cedar Ridge.
1) Describe your Business: It’s goals and aesthetic/style.
The Cedar Ridge Cafe and Bakery is designed to be a local commuter cafe. We want to create a safe, friendly, environment that you can feel comfortable in having lunch with a friend, breakfast with your children, or just hanging out for a few hours getting some work done. We really have one main goal and that is to make this a comfortable place for all people. I am very fortunate that we have a staff that shares the same goals and ideals. Our manager and head baker, Michelle Mancuso, does a fantastic job of creating new sweets for all to enjoy. There is always something new at the Cafe, and I think that is a great addition to the space we have created.
2) Where does your skill/passion for your chosen field originate from?
I have always loved to cook. My earliest memories are of being in the kitchen with my grandmother, standing on a stool and helping her to cook. As I got older, I realized this was a true passion, so I enrolled in Le cordon Bleu at the age of 46, and created a place for myself within the cooking world.
3) How has your move to Maplewood further evolved or provided inspiration for your business?
There is not much I can say about the communities we live in that I don’t spout on about every day. I am lucky and fortunate to live here. Our community has inspired me to cook on a more local level, often serving comfort foods. I really enjoy talking with our customers and hearing what they want to be eating and make those items for them. Our motto is “if we have the ingredients, we will make it for you”.
4) Where is the last place in New Jersey, that you enjoyed a truly fabulous meal.. like, the kind you can’t stop thinking about
the last great meal I had was at the Dinosaur BarB Que in Newark. I really enjoyed the food and would definitely go back. On a local level, nothing beats a cheese pizza from Roman Gourmet. It is definitely my go to fix.
5) What does a typical day off look like for you? What Essex County spots would you frequent?
A typical day off for me is usually spent around the house with my husband and animals. I am a true home body and enjoy the comforts of our home. Many of my weekends are spent in Monticello, New York, with my family in our lake house. I like to get out into the country, away from the hustle and bustle. I also enjoy strolling through Maplewood and downtown Montclair. I have only lived in NJ for three years, so Manhattan is really new and exciting for me and we take frequent trips into the city.
Want to know why we’re so cool? Michelle & Paul make a dessert EXCLUSIVELY for Kate Elliott Team events – Kate’s Butterscotch Bars!
Curious? Pop in for some Coffee and Eats Tuesday – Sunday at 410 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood.
Email about Catering or the next Pasta Night : Hello@cedarridgecafe.com
Get Social: @cedarridgecafe, Facebook