Last year we reported that Soufflés Cafe would be shutting its doors after facing a rent hike and declining business. Now, after some renovation, new owners are set to open Enter the Café, a sleek, modern-style eatery catering to the diversity of the neighborhood.
"The business before had its own following, but they had too many items on the menu," said co-owner Jessica Moy. "The thing that I wanted to do different was that I wanted the menu to be simple and easy...and we wanted to have something that was a little more 'grab and go.'"
This will be Moy, her husband Aurelio Pérez, and brother Daniel Moy's first venture into the café business, but, "Daniel and I have worked at cafés before, so it’s not a completely foreign environment."
While the menu is still coming together, Moy said most options will be desert-like in nature, with house-made waffles as the main feature for breakfast or a "sweet bite after dinner."
"We'll have three to five different versions to begin with that will all go well with the ice cream we will be serving," Moy said. In keeping with a desire to serve locally sourced products, Pérez added that they've chosen to feature Inner Sunset-based Hometown Creamery.
The team is also experimenting with non-traditional flavors for the waffles. "We've tried out an ube waffle and I usually don't even like ube," Daniel Moy told us. "But there's a texture and overall flavor that you get that I haven't seen much elsewhere."
"We’re also working on mochi waffles because they taste better, they are chewier. And they're a gluten-free option," Pérez added.
As for coffee, Enter the Cafe will be serving Intelligentsia Coffee, a roaster with homegrown roots. "They roast in San Francisco and you can find their coffee here, but they aren't saturated," Pérez said. "They aren't on every corner."
"They were a bit more robust in flavor," he added. "In the Bay Area, light roasts are very en vogue. But we wanted the right balance of it being artisan coffee without going very light."
Moy and her brother said they chose the location because of their close ties to Chinatown.
"Part of the drive comes from the fact that we still live in this community." Pérez said. "Both Daniel and Jessica have lived in Chinatown and have walked these streets as children."
Moy added that when planning to open and designing the menu, a lot of thought was put into identifying who their potential customer might be. "We were watching the people walking by, and we are right by a public school, so we wanted it to be inviting for the teachers and students," she said.
"And Powell Street is filled with tourists heading back and forth between the water and downtown. We want to cater to all of the populations and we are doing something a little different than you might see in North Beach." Moy said.
Pérez said that they hope to have the doors open sometime in July and are just waiting on one last inspection from the Health Department to operate. And when Enter the Cafe is up and running, they'll play with the hours at first after getting a better feel for demand in the neighborhood, he said.
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