Initially slated to open in May, snags in the supply chain delayed the shipment of a lot of the cafe’s equipment, including an espresso machine imported from Italy, according to owner James Velez.
“It took longer than expected, but we’re almost there,” Velez told The Times Thursday.
Perhaps the mantra of good things coming to those who wait holds true; in addition to the standard beverages, sandwiches, desserts and pastries offered at Diletto’s flagship location in midtown Gainesville, the South Hall outpost’s menu features a few exclusive items.
Customers will be able to take their pick from eight flavors of ice cream supplied by La Mejor de Michoacan: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, strawberry cheesecake, mango, coffee, cookies and cream and, for the kids (or the young at heart), rainbow.
Customers will still have to visit the Gainesville location for brunch, “but as far as the desserts, the bread, the cookies, the macaroons — all of that is going to be served at the Flowery Branch location,” Velez said.
These items will be delivered fresh every morning from the Gainesville location, along with pre-made sandwiches and croissants. Gluten-free options will be available as well.
The Flowery Branch location will serve customers from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
“The expectations are very high,” Velez said. “A lot of customers call every day, or when they come to our store, they’re always asking when we’re opening. A lot of people that live in the south part (of the county), they won’t have to drive all the way to Gainesville to have a dessert or coffee.”
With a walk-up window and outdoor seating, Velez is hopeful the new location will connect more South Hall residents with their local library, especially those who haven’t visited it before.
“Now they have a reason to grab a cup of coffee and sit down and read a book,” he said.
From the time Diletto opened in Gainesville in December 2019, Velez envisioned launching an additional location, but those plans were tabled by COVID-19.
“We knew that if everything was going to be a success in Gainesville, we wanted to also bring it to other communities not too far from Gainesville, (but) we didn’t count on the pandemic hitting us three months after we opened,” Velez said. “That kind of slowed everything down until we had the opportunity to apply for the library (cafe space). Before, it was a thought, it was a dream. But then there was the pandemic, and after that, labor issues, and after that, raw materials’ price increased so much. At that point it was like, ‘What’s going to happen with the dream?’ But now we see it happening, and if there’s an opportunity to open up a third location, we’re definitely going to take it.”
Velez said there have been talks about opening a third location, and he’s fielded offers from different business owners and real estate agents in and around Hall County. North Hall is a prospect, he said, but nothing has been decided at this point in time.
Velez gives kudos to Gainesville’s population of coffee connoisseurs for their support
“The community has been great; very supportive, even through the pandemic. We even had some customers who told us from the beginning when we were doing just curbside pickup , ‘We’re going to be here every day supporting you.’ And they actually did, every day.”
Given all that he faced as a new business owner, Velez said expanding Diletto’s customer base to South Hall was a God-given opportunity.
“(During the pandemic) we were discussing and praying and trying to figure out if we were going to continue or if we were going to close,” he said. “It was a tough time for us; we were brand new. That was the week we decided, ‘We’re going to continue relying on God,’ and so far, we’ve seen it. We’ve seen what he’s done and we continue seeing his blessings and all the people that keep coming. We’re just excited to continue growing.”