Food at the zoo: a new café opens with a fast and fresh menu


Syracuse, NY – If you’ve ever visited the Rosamond Gifford Zoo with your kids, you know that the moment you visit the tiger exhibit, someone will start complaining about being hungry.

Starting today, you can order a meal from your phone that will be cooked by culinary school graduates and have it ready for pickup by the time you’re done watching the flamingos.

The Honey Bee Café opened Friday morning. The new restaurant and cafe bar has taken over the place that was once a Burger King. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Zoo officials and Onondaga County Superintendent Ryan McMahon cut the tape at the front door this morning to declare the bee open.

“It’s just awesome,” McMahon said. “It all depends on our quality of life and our children. Look at all the people here. They are here to enjoy our zoo and enjoy local healthy food.

County Manager Ryan McMahon chats with young patrons at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s new Honey Bee Cafe on Friday. (Charlie Miller | [email protected])

Chuck Anthony, the zoo’s new food and beverage manager, has assembled a team of chefs to prepare healthy yet tasty meals that even the kids would enjoy. You can order at the counter or scan the QR code with your phone and order in advance.

“Fast food can be good food,” he said. “It has to be fast and good, but we want it to be healthy. Fast and healthy can coexist.

The executive chef here is Dan Hudson, a veteran of some of downtown New York’s finest restaurants, including the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles and 11 Waters Restaurant at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Raineen Hills, a skilled chef who recently opened Rai’s Dough, a cafe on East Genesee Street, cooks during the day.

The menu has been designed to appeal to parents and children. Adults will likely choose from three loaded salads or fancy sandwiches such as the muffuletta (ham, salami, capicola, Swiss cheese and provolone with olive tapenade on homemade focaccia bread) or a caprese (puréed basil, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, arugula, tomato, fresh basil and balsamic glaze on a toasted multigrain bread). Both cost $10.95.

The kids have already turned to the chicken tenders ($7.95), macaroni and cheese ($6.95) and pizza pita ($8.95). The offers, by the way, are cooked. Anthony said the restaurant didn’t have fryers. Everything is cooked.

bee coffee

The new Honey Bee Cafe at Rosamond Gifford Zoo opened on Friday. (Charlie Miller | [email protected])

The Honey Bee has also added a coffee bar, provided by Café Kubal. Kubal owner Matt Godard set them up with equipment and coffee beans and trained workers to make their coffee. “It’s such a beautiful space,” he said. “You can have a great cup of coffee to start your visit to the zoo and end with a healthy meal.”

Charlie Miller finds the best of food, drink and fun in central New York. Contact him at (315) 382-1984or by email at [email protected]. You can also find it under @HoosierCuse on Twitter and on instagram. Sign up for his free weekly Newsletter Where Syracuse Eats here.


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