Yesterday afternoon I poked my head inside the final stages of construction at Kafka’s, Aaron Kafka’s new cafe at 120-577 Great Northern Way (formerly Momento Coffee House) on Emily Carr’s new campus. The slat-shaded, 1,500 sqft space will hold some 75 seats when it opens, possibly as soon as 10 days from now.
It’s come a long way since my first visit to the site in April, when Aaron told me he’d hired former Homer St. Cafe and Tableau chef Tret Jordan to run the food program. The upstairs section was already well tucked away and awaiting tables and chairs back then, but the space on the main floor was still very raw. Here’s a refresher on what I wrote at the time:
It will be called Kafka’s. The concept, however, won’t be identical as the Main Street original. We will, of course, be able to count on quality coffee and tea service, but the food program will be going well above and beyond the realm of the coffee-associative baked good.
Coming on board to design a brand new food program will be chef Tret Jordan, who has been the executive chef at Tableau Bar Bistro and Homer Street Cafe & Bar for the past couple of years. Previously, he worked at Voya, Raincity Grill, William Tell, Bacchus and Elixir, gaining further training at Michelin-starred restaurants like Claridges and Pied a Terre in London. Scout interviewed him a couple of years ago. He’s good people, and talented. (True story: he once sent away for Sea Monkeys as a kid.)
The sort of food Jordan will be making remains a mystery at this point. I’m told he’s only just given his notice and Kafka tells me they have yet to discuss menus. That being said, Jordan will have a nice new kitchen to work with that includes a hood vent, so it doesn’t sound like it will be a restricted electric/induction op.
Tret’s kitchen is framed in and nearly good to go, as is his menu. The early service (7am to 11am) will offer 7 different items, among them three different breakfast sandwiches and a Bircher muesli, while lunches (11am to 3pm) will see several sandwiches, good-for-you Glory bowls, and several other things besides. (They’re doing a chermoula chicken sandwich that sounds particular good, with pickled jalapenos, arugula, carrot and lemon.) From the baking to the pickling, just about everything on offer is being made by Tret and his small team in house.
As far as the interior goes, I could see myself spending a lot of time clocking in to work on the mezzanine level with coffee and my laptop. They had good bones to work with up there, as per my previous piece on the place:
The layout of the space should be interesting. The upstairs will have communal tables and a long work/sip bar for the laptop crowd, while the main floor will see more of a convivial, social, restaurant-y atmosphere. With all the new developments flanking the address it would be easy to mistake the building as brand new, but it’s actually many decades old. This is made plain upon closer inspection of the details within.
The black and white mural work by Steven and Sandy Pell should make all the incoming artwork pop. Aaron, who always has fresh art on the walls of his original cafe on Main Street, tells me he hopes to have new works on the bare walls soon. Take a closer look: