Macon restaurateur ventures into coffee, clothes

Things have picked up a little on Cherry Street in downtown Macon.

Last week, long-time entrepreneur Cesare Mammarella opened Dolce Vita, a café and bar, and Jack & Coat, a men’s clothing store, next to each other in the 400 block of Cherry Street.

Dolce Vita, which seats about 40 people, is a restaurant with “full coffee service and a full bar,” Mammarella said. “It’s all small plates. ... We’re not doing anything over $5. Some people say it’s tapas (which are similar to appetizers in some customs), but it’s more a small-plate menu instead of a tapas menu.”

A full-time pastry chef bakes all the breads, cakes, pies and muffins at the premises, he said. The café also serves soups and salads and a variety of hot and cold drinks.

The restaurant opens at 8:30 a.m. weekdays and at 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It closes at midnight weekdays and 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 10 p.m. Sundays.

Jack & Coat is on the second floor, and it is the first time Mammarella has owned a clothing store.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. Downtown has needed any kind of retail, and more specifically men’s retail.”

It is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, and closed Sundays.

The store carries some dress shirts, but mostly casual wear, including some preppy corduroy pants and polo shirts, as well as “funky dress shirts, but no suits,” Mammarella said. “We do some ties, but most of the emphasis is on shirts and designer jeans, which are priced from $70 up to $200. Our shirts range from $49 up to $130.”

Store manager Chris Abbott said the merchandise is geared toward the “business-Friday look” as well as casual night-out clothing.

The shop is cleverly decorated with antiques, some used to display items for sale. It is roomy and does not have numerous racks of clothing smashed together with one of every size in every color. An antique couch and a couple of chairs offer shoppers a place to sit and chat or catch up with a game on a flat-screen TV. Local art is displayed on the walls.

Each business has about 1,600-square-feet of space.

“I think both places turned out real well,” Mammarella said. “We occupied two empty places in downtown. There are other places opening so there is a great little buzz going on right now in the downtown area.”

Mammarella also owns the Tic Toc Room and Luigi’s Bistro in downtown Macon.

Mike Ford, CEO of NewTown Macon, which is involved in encouraging growth in the city’s core, said Mammarella’s new investment in downtown is “exciting.”

“Cesare’s opening of the two new stores is a very important development in the growth of downtown,” Ford said. “Both of these are indicative that downtown has reached a tipping point, and we think it’s going to be mostly up from here forward.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.