Cartel's new space will offer new menu, drink options

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Cartel Coffee Lab will take over the recently closed First Watch location at the corner of First and Washington streets and begin to offer alcohol on its menu. (Chloe Brooks/DD)

Cartel Coffee Lab’s move to a new location may only take the business a few doors south of their current space, but the move will mark a large shift in business as the coffee shop looks to expand its offerings with the addition of alcohol.

The locally owned coffee shop will shut down the current location and move into the space of the recently closed breakfast and lunch destination, First Watch, on the corner of First and Washington streets.

Since opening roughly a year and half ago, the idea of having a larger location to accommodate for their rising popularity is something the coffee shop owners wanted.

“We’re growing and growing,” said executive chef and part-owner Adam Reeder. “We need more space to deal with all of that.”

Currently, Cartel is located a few stores north on First Street, which has forced them to adopt a word-of-mouth campaign to get people into the door. He hopes to change the marketing tactic after relocating.

“It’s hard for the local guy,” Reeder said. “We’re hoping that this location will help the street presence.”

With a larger kitchen, the chefs and baristas at Cartel will not only serve food, but also plan to offer beer and wine. The addition of alcohol to the menu is not a new thing for other Cartel locations in the Valley.

Cartel’s current location underneath the Military Entrance Processing Station downtown, prevented the business from serving alcohol because the station has regulations against serving liquor in the building, Reeder said.

However, he was told the military station will be relocating in September, which would allow for Cartel to move forward with their plans to expand their drink options.

Aside from the changes in drinks, Reeder also said he is eager to expand their selection for breakfast and lunch items that they have not been able to offer their clients at the current location. The menu expansion is something that regulars to the shop have been asking to see for a while, said barista Charellie Rodriguez.

Reeder said he hopes the changes will not only keep the current clients happy, but bring in new people as well.

With sports venues in close proximity to their new location, the owners are also planning to add small dinner plates that will serve as a quick meal for customers who are looking to grab a fast bite and drink before a game. He said they would expand hours for game nights.

“We’d love to see more college students,” Reeder said. “We’re quick, easy and affordable. $10.50 for a sandwich, salad, and side. You can’t beat that.”

After CityScape entered the downtown scene, bringing with it the well-known dining options, it proved difficult to pull customers away from commonplace venues and get them to venture into new territory, he added.

“This will give us our opportunity to show (customers) that we are better than Starbucks,” Reeder said.

However, some clients already feel that Cartel has far surpassed the appeal of big box coffee shops like Starbucks.

“For me Starbucks may as well not exist,” customer Artur Cieselski said. “The coffee is better, the service is better and the atmosphere is better (at Cartel).”

Contact the reporter at kayla.pologa@asu.edu