CANANDAIGUA ó There is a new lunch spot in Canandaigua. Soupís On is open for business, in the former Lafayette Avenue location of Markís Pizzeria. (Mark's is now located in the Canandaigua Theaters plaza.)

The cafť-style restaurant serves lunch and dinner and features several permanent and seasonally rotating gourmet soups, fresh sandwiches, salads and homemade baked goods. Local delivery is also available.

Owner and head chef Steven Ingalls boasts†more than†25 years of culinary experience. Born and raised in Wellsville, he enrolled in the food service program at Alfred State College†but left after a year.

"I felt like I was working for them and paying them to feed the student body, very institutional," said Ingalls.

Ingalls ó whose experience includes being a former head chef of the Canandaigua Yacht Club and Canandaigua Country Club, and having cooked at Ericís Office and Casa de Pasta, both in Canandaigua†ó has long wanted to be his own boss and run a restaurant dedicated to soup.

"For some reason itís been my dream for a long time to do a soup kind of cafť thing," Ingalls said. "Soups and sauces are definitely my forte."

So heís finally opened a kitchen of his very own, but the process has come with its share of complications.

"Itís fun, itís exciting, itís really difficult," he said. "Iíve never owned my own business. Iíve never done the front of the house. Iím learning how to run a cash register now, the credit card machine. Thereís a lot to it."

Getting the property ready for business has proven to be even more labor- and cost-intensive than†Ingalls anticipated.

Luckily, he was able to defray initial costs substantially by moving into a location that already had a working kitchen and walk-in cooler. Among a litany of projects and upgrades, he has installed new tile in the front eating area, given the walls a new paint job, and installed a flat-screen television. Wi-Fi will also be available for those dining in, though Ingalls figures most business will come from takeout ó†as he put it, "for that couple that wants to come in for a quick bite to eat, or a couple construction guys who are into a bowl of soup and a sandwich."

Interest has been building locally. The Soupís On Facebook page has†more than†150 likes and has been an informational resource for interested foodies looking to check on its progress.

Ingalls went door to door along Main Street passing out menus. "I hit every spot in town. The response has been incredible," he said. "Word of mouth is going to be huge."

Ingalls also hopes his business can lend a local feel to the lunch rush. "I want to have local artists put their artwork on the walls, whether it be for sale or just getting their names out there," he said.†

And down the road, he hopes to carry his own dressings and a selection of hot sauces.

"Iím a hot sauce freak," he said.

So why soup? For starters, Ingalls simply loves making it. You might even say heís obsessed. His email handle is "soupersteve." People have called him the Soup Nazi (from the television show "Seinfeld"). He claims to make a New England clam chowder that real New Englanders have agreed rivals ó†and even beats ó†the real thing.

"People love my squash bisque," he said.

He made a batch for his new landlord after signing the lease. But his number-one soup to eat has to be Manhattan clam chowder. "I think I make an amazing one," he said. "Itís got some nice spice, some nice zing to it."

Soup is also a relatively healthy, quick alternative to traditional fast food lunch options. It affords a lot of room for experimentation, and itís hard to beat on a cold winter afternoon.

"I think itíll go well in Canandaigua. There are plenty of places that have good ó great soup even ó but I think Canandaiguaís ready for it."

More about Soup's On

WHERE 35 Lafayette Ave., Canandaigua

PHONE (585) 880-4320

WEB Find the restaurant on Facebook for daily specials by searching "Soup's On in Canandaigua"