Exotic coffee shop, clothing store on Cherry St. in the works

Downtown Macon could be sweeter this fall if local restaurateur Cesare Mammarella has anything to do with it.

Mammarella, owner of the Hotplates Restaurant Group, plans to open a coffee shop and dessert bar called La Dolce Vita in the old Bella Donna building at 484 Cherry St.

The shop will share the building with Mammarella’s new menswear store on the second level.

The two businesses are scheduled to open by September.

La Dolce Vita will sell coffee, espresso drinks, pastries, cakes and other dessert dishes, each costing no more than $5, Mammarella said. It will also feature a full-service bar, selling liquor, beer and wine.

“We’re trying to give it a Moroccan feel and make it a trendy place to get your morning coffee and pastries, to meet with co-workers or just to sit and chill with drinks after a theater performance or live show,” Mammarella said.

He’s planning to keep La Dolce Vita open until midnight, at least on the weekends.

“I’d love to reach out to the late-night business and for people to come here after dinner and enjoy a few cocktails. There’s a need for that in Macon,” he said.

Mammarella said the name La Dolce Vita, which means “the sweet life” in Italian, comes from the title of a 1960 Federico Fellini movie.

“I want this shop to be about the finer, sweeter things in life,” he said.

This is not Mamarella’s first venture in the food service business. He has operated the Tic Toc Room and Luigi’s Bistro, two other downtown businesses, for more than seven years.

While other downtown coffee shops have come and gone in the last decade, Mammarella said that his ability to maintain other successful downtown businesses helps sets him apart.

“It’s all about understanding your clientele. Sometimes, people who open places do what they want to do. You have to do what the customer in Macon wants, and I’ve done that with my other businesses,” he said.

Upstairs, Mammarella also plans to debut Jack and Coat, a new clothing store specializing in designer casual and formal wear for men.

“The name’s a play on Jack and Coke — as in the mixed drink — and it’ll be the only fashion store of its kind south of Atlanta and north of Miami,” he said.

Mammarella already has begun remodeling the building in preparation for its opening. He will be priming the walls, building the bar and changing the flooring this week.

To contact writer Carl Lewis, call 744-4347.