Inside a Hornell staple with owner Andy Carbone
By Johanna Elattar, prepare to get hungry!
At 327 Canisteo St. in the charming town of Hornell, JC’s Cafe stands as not just a place to grab a bite but a culinary institution deeply ingrained in the community’s fabric. In a delightful conversation with Andy Carbone, the affable owner of JC’s Cafe, we unraveled the layers of history, gastronomy, and community engagement that make this eatery a cherished gem in the heart of Hornell.
Andy Carbone’s journey into the world of food commenced at the tender age of 18 when he took on the role of a dishwasher at St. James’ Hospital. Swiftly climbing the ranks, his culinary prowess elevated him to the position of an evening cook. Seeking a broader horizon, Andy transitioned to McDonald’s, where he delved into the intricacies of restaurant management. Fuelled by passion and a desire to bring something special to his community, Andy took the leap and became the proud owner of JC’s Cafe in April 1980.
Under Andy’s thoughtful guidance, JC’s Cafe transformed from its humble beginnings into a culinary haven. The menu underwent a significant expansion, now boasting an array of delectable offerings. Pizza, subs, and chicken wings found a place alongside traditional favorites. However, it’s the Famous Bomber that captures the imagination—a tantalizing combination of sirloin steak, chicken breast, chicken fingers, Buffalo chicken, and ham steak with mushrooms.
Burgers at JC’s Cafe are not just burgers; they’re a culinary experience. Crafted with a generous ¼ pound of fresh ground beef, each bite is a testament to quality and flavor. The breakfast pizza, with its homemade dough, sausage, butter, and yellow shredded cheese, has become a local legend. The cafe’s commitment to authenticity extends to its homemade meatballs and sauce, with the dough recipe being a cherished family secret passed down from Andy’s grandmother.
JC’s Cafe isn’t confined to the four walls of its cozy space. It extends its culinary expertise to cater various events, including weddings, funerals, Christmas parties, birthdays, and other special occasions. Notably, the cafe recently hosted a heartwarming celebration for a remarkable centenarian, creating lasting memories for the community.
Andy beams with pride as he speaks of the cafe’s regular patrons and former employees who have gone on to achieve great success in their careers. He sees JC’s Cafe not just as a place to enjoy a meal but as a community hub that contributes to the growth and success of those it serves.
Like many businesses, JC’s Cafe faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Undeterred, Andy took proactive measures, offering phone orders and adjusting the cafe’s operations to ensure the safety of both customers and staff. With a reduced staff of one or two servers, Andy established a routine to bring a sense of normalcy to the cafe’s operations during uncertain times.
JC’s Cafe is not just a business; it’s a vital part of the community. One noteworthy community initiative is their active involvement in the Hornell Humane Society’s “Pasta For Paws” event—an annual spaghetti dinner that raises funds for the shelter. For the second consecutive year, JC’s Cafe will provide the culinary delights for the event on Feb. 15th at The Sons Of Italy, 70 Erie Ave in Hornell, from 4:00-6:30 pm. This event exemplifies the cafe’s commitment to making a positive impact on both taste buds and the community at large.
In conclusion, JC’s Cafe transcends the typical cafe experience. It’s a culinary journey, a community hub, and a testament to the resilience and adaptability of local businesses. Andy Carbone’s story mirrors the evolution of JC’s Cafe, creating a narrative that intertwines with the history and heartbeat of Hornell. As you savor the flavors at JC’s Cafe, you’re not just enjoying a meal; you’re partaking in a piece of Hornell’s rich tapestry—a tapestry woven with care, dedication, and a whole lot of culinary love.
Johanna Elattar is a Hornell NY based writer who loves great food!! She also enjoys writing about local community issues, interesting local ghost stories, and supporting the Hornell Area Humane Society. You can reach her anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org