Restaurateur Charlotte Denoyer

Chocolate-making alum's recipe for success

February 9, 2024


Charlotte Denoyer is living her dream. The 2015 grad and her sister, Carrie, always wanted to work together. Now they do, as owners of a popular restaurant in a New York City suburb.

Approaching its one-year anniversary, Café Deux is an all-day café and restaurant in Harrison, New York, serving a French-American menu of breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Their offerings, as Denoyer explained, “go from coffee to cocktails, with everything in between.”

The sisters grew up in a hospitality-focused family, the fourth generation to enter the business. Their Paris-born father, Jean, has designed and opened more than 40 restaurants throughout his career. Their great-grandparents built and operated a hotel in Paris.

Denoyer, who earned her undergraduate degree in business and leadership studies, began working at her family’s restaurant at age 15. Her sister was 14. “By starting at such a young age, in a very low-level position, we really learned the value of hard work,” she said.

It’s paid off.

While at UR, Denoyer “had big ideas” about starting a business. She sold fudge on campus, while taking an entrepreneurship class through the Robins School of Business. As student government president of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, she caught the eye of Teach for America. After graduating, she spent the next seven years as a teacher in the Bronx and then Harlem.

Cafe Deux

Charlotte Denoyer, a 2015 grad, and her sister Carrie opened Café Deux in a suburb of New York City.

“I realized I needed to grow my skills before going out on my own in business,” Denoyer said. “Teaching was a great vehicle to practice my management skills, learn how to establish clear goals and give directions, learn how to work with all types of people, and learn what best motivates them when things are challenging. To be a business owner you need to know how to get people to learn and grow, how to empower them to make smart decisions, and how to communicate effectively.”

In 2019, Denoyer and her sister founded Cupped Desserts, an online chocolate cup business. The handmade mini cups, which come in more than 20 flavors, are sold at the restaurant. Denoyer is a pastry chef while her sister, whose background is in graphic design, handles the restaurant’s cocktail program and front-end management.

They later wanted to expand beyond chocolate and open a restaurant with high-quality ingredients, homemade sauces and syrups, quality cocktails and coffee, farm-to-table fresh foods, and sustainable practices.

Café Deux plays on their initials and the French word for “two.” The cafe, located across from the town’s train station, is in the middle of a vibrant community where there was no French restaurant. They hired a renowned chef local to the area and have expanded their team so the sisters can focus on building the business in other ways.

“We’ve grown up around French food,” Denoyer said. “I can’t imagine living in a place without having hand-cut French fries available every day.”