chhaya café opened its doors to new larger home at 1819 East Passyunk Avenue on Thursday, August 21, 2014. Chef and owner Varnana “V” Beuria brings her passion for delicious coffee and simple flavorful food to a new kitchen doors away from her original restaurant in the heart of Philadelphia’s restaurant row.
chhaya, which means shelter and tranquility, will now offer nearly double the seating but continue to offer an intimate, warm and cozy atmosphere. The breakfast, lunch and brunch menu still focuses on unique waffle preparations, playful twists on classic dishes, rotating entrees and a selection of seasonal weekend brunch specials. The new location will be open seven days a week, operating Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 7:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am to 6:00pm. The kitchen will close daily at 3:30pm.
chhaya’s new space is nearly double in size (1,100 square feet) and features seating for 50 inside and 10 outside. Despite the expansion, the floorplan was designed to provide guests with the same intimate, quiet and tranquil feel of the former space. Beuria wanted the new chhaya to feel more modern, but preserve a warm and cozy feeling. “I used a lot of wood to bring the warmth in, to make it feel intimate even though the dining room will be much larger,” said Beuria.
Beauria collaborated with Toner Architects on the unique floor plan that provides for dedicated areas for dining, relaxing, laptop use, working, socializing and more. The final layout was designed to be set up like a bar, not a traditional coffee shop. Beuria wants guests to communicate and interact with the baristas like a customer does at a bar. “The centerpiece of the new location will feature a coffee bar with seating in the front for baristas and customers to interact with each other, not just place to order and run,” said Beuria. “Our employees have always had an intimate relationship with customers, and will continue to in the larger space.”
Other notable features include:
- Floor to ceiling windows have been installed along the storefront, that open out to East Passyunk, framed in Mahogany with tempered glass, seating will feature comfy chairs with a low table, new outlets spaced between seating for customers that wish to plug in
- Laptop area with live edge wood slab with bark, featuring ample electrical outlets for customers to plug in
- Ambrosia Maple tables and chairs handmade by a family friend; other chairs made from dark Walnut
- New floors made from a combination of White Oak from Lancaster county, plus ceramic tile and concrete
- Coffee bar that will feature seating for up to six people, with no outlets to encourage old fashioned conversations, a dessert and food case, and a striking finished wood top
- Pillars covered with creamy off-white plaster inlaid with a lace pattern to add another layer of texture and warmth
- “Windows seats have always been a favorite to customers,” said Beuria. “I expect the new nook with shelves and books and sofas will become a favorite.”
Expanded space also means additional room for chhaya’s art program. Local and regional artists will be able to hang more pieces on the walls, and chhaya will have space host three dimensional pieces. The art program will be led in-house, with two long-time baristas taking over the program. Details for the opening show are in development.
chhaya’s opening menu is very similar to the current location, with the possibility of small changes. The breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch menu still focus on unique waffle preparations, playful twists on classic dishes, rotating entrees and a selection of seasonal weekend brunch specials. chhaya’s food and drink menus are simple but carefully crafted with a focus on quality ingredients and heartfelt preparation. chhaya pours organic, fair trade coffee that is locally hand-roasted in small batches and delivered to the café weekly. Now that the new spot is open, chhaya will announce the arrival of late summer and early fall seasonal dishes in the near future.
Down the road, the menu at chhaya may evolve and grow. Beuria will also explore adding later hours, ramping up baked goods, additional vegan and vegetarian offerings, increasing our popular pie of the day program, and some other surprises in the kitchen.