By Jonathan Farrell —
At the edge of the Union 76 at West Napa is the Cup of Love cafe truck, ready to serve up coffee and whatever else owner Amy Granum has on hand for the early risers of Sonoma.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” she said. She works alongside her beau of eight years, Andy Salerno. Taking over Coffee & Coco, Granum bought the business from Rocio Fuentes in 2020.
Granum saw an opportunity and eager to make it her own, she rebranded the stand as Cup of Love in 2021. She knew the site well – it’s right across the street from The Black Bear Cafe where she used to work. She’d take her breaks there.
“That’s where we met, initially,” said Salerno. “And we would bump into each other around town. Eventually falling in love.” Both quickly realized that they shared a common dream of owning their own business.
“That’s why we call it Cup of Love,” Granum explains..
The downside of the COVID-19 pandemic provided an unexpected upside as both were unsatisfied with their particular work/career situations. “I used to work in construction,” said Salerno. “Like many people, I was just working in a momentous circle,” he said. But when he threw his back out just as COVID-19 hit, “I think it was a sign that I had to find something else to do.”
The opportunity to join in Granum’s business venture was “a-God-sent release from that monotonous circle.”
Both Granum and Salerno are longtime residents of Sonoma. “I came here 30 years ago from Fresno,” said Granum. “And, I was born and raised in Kenwood,” said Salerno. “A great place to grow up.” He recalls the Kenwood Roadhouse and Bunny’s, “I remember playing Pac-Man there as a little kid.”
“And, I loved playing baseball and Soccer. Victor Belmonte (VJB Cellars) used to help coach our team,” said Salerno. Both see Sonoma Valley as more than home, “it’s a bit of heaven on earth,” they both said almost in unison.
“What has been so amazing to me is how much the community helps each other,” said Granum. “Here we are amid at least two other drive-thru locally-owned coffee spots in town and we all help each other.”
Granum says that if she runs out of coffee cup lids, Cafe Scooteria a few blocks away is happy to fill the gap. “There’s plenty of business to go around, said Granum, so we are not fiercely competitive.”
Cup of Love serves two locally-produced coffees: Masterpiece Coffee of Marin, and Yeehaw micro-roaster of Sonoma. “I like to help and support my fellow business-owners,” Granum says.
And it helps, as Timothy Benton, owner of Yeehaw and a regular customer explains. “I agree with Amy,” he said over a recent cup. “We are all just fellow vendors trying to help each other out because we all want to own a business and make a difference in the community.”
Like Salerno, he too initially met Granum as she was working at The Black Bear Cafe. Benton was a regular at the Friday Farmers Market for four years, until COVID-19 changed things. The opening of Cup of Love has helped provide the steady customer base he has been seeking to build.
“Cafe Scooteria helped me out too, when I ran out of cups, while at the Farmers Market one day, so I know what Amy means when she says that the local business community is like a little family.”
Sonoma native Jim Sparks is another regular. “I come here every so often to get a White Mocha.” When he drove up he was greeted with a hug of appreciation. “Sparky been a loyal customer since we opened in August two years ago,” said Salerno.
The feeling is better than a shot of espresso. “It’s what makes this entire venture with Amy truly a Cup of Love that’s overflowing to everyone, not just us.”
Cup of Love is open Monday through Friday from 6am-noon at 195 W. Napa St.