Local woman “seizes the day” by founding Café Diem

That Louise Higgins named her Pearl River restaurant Café Diem is a fact most would call fitting: the West Nyack resident is no stranger to “seizing the day.” Having worked in a corporate role in construction finance for 25 years, Higgins decided to pursue the new venture after being diagnosed with sarcoma in her abdomen (a rare cancer) in 2018. Since securing Café Diem’s current spot in June of 2022 and going full-time with the business in 2023, she has never looked back.

“I like to make people happy,” said Higgins. “You never see someone sitting, eating with their friends looking unhappy…With our workers, everyone’s kind of related somehow, or a friend of someone. It’s very close-knit. And the community is very good. It’s so positive, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Part of Higgins’ aim to open a restaurant stemmed from her desire to cater to Rockland residents with specific dietary needs. Following her diagnosis, she and daughter Nicole Higgins-Duffy (Café Diem’s Social Media Manager and Events Coordinator) found there to be a scarcity of local spots that offered the sort of farm-to-table options that health-conscious diners would prefer.

“With (my mom’s) diagnosis, she really wanted to have everything here organic,” Higgins-Duffy explained. “All of our produce comes from organic farms. Rockland Farms is where we get our chicken, Happy Eggs Farm is where we get our eggs. We’ve also done our research with fresh fish—all the fresh salmon comes in every few days.”

Describing Café Diem’s cuisine as an eclectic “American-modern” mix with rustic charm, Higgins-Duffy went on to explain that the café serves a wide range of coffee options and dishes, offering breakfast and lunch all day along with dinner on days where the restaurant stays open late (Wednesday through Saturday until 9:30 p.m.). Especially popular plates include the Avocado Toast, Diem Breakfast and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. Signature cocktails are also served, with new selections like the Blackberry Margarita being created on a regular basis.

Events such as paint-and-sip nights have been held at Café Diem to cater to its mostly female clientele with the mother-daughter team planning to hold more, such as a vision-board making event on March 26.

With a clientele of over 80 customers a day (approximately 120 on weekends), Higgins is now looking to expand Café Diem, with plans to open a new location in Piermont by the end of spring. Her ultimate goal is to open five locations throughout Rockland—a task her daughter says is highly doable for her powerful mom.

“It’s been great watching her thrive—going from a corporate job where she wasn’t happy, to the diagnosis, to watching her survive and keep on kicking cancer’s ass, to taking this project on and making all these customers happy,” Higgins-Duffy stated, smiling. “It’s been a huge blessing and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Two locations are going to be crazy, but she wants five. She does not plan on stopping. She’s kicking glass ceilings down all over the place!”

Café Diem’s famous Avocado Toast
Cocktail and dinner
The Café Diem Team

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