As I arrived at the Smithe-Richards Urban Park on a sunny afternoon last week, it was alive with activity. In fact, the Dialog-designed park looked almost exactly like the renderings circulated by The City of Vancouver earlier this year: the playground was buzzing with kids, benches were full, there was a family sharing a picnic lunch on the seating area of the overhead walkway. The only thing missing was a crowd of happy coffee cup-carrying park-goers relaxing in front of the the park’s cafe.
The good news is that the picture is finally complete with the opening of Kafka’s in the Park this weekend (Saturday, June 4, 8am-6pm). Although the team was still putting on finishing touches when I met with owner Aaron Kafka for a look around the space last week, you can see from the pictures below that the cafe is ready – and looking pretty sweet.
The space, designed by Scott Cohen, uses high-contrast graphics and simple lines to create a defined sense of place. While clearly (and colourfully) exuding ‘Kafka’s’ character, the cafe is also seamlessly integrated into the flow of the city, largely due to the floor-to-ceiling windows that simultaneously flood the room with light and open to views of both park and street activity.
A custom-crafted green banquette with six high-shine lacquered Douglas fir tabletops and accompanying chrome-and-yellow Marcel Breuer chairs add an element of warmth to an otherwise cool, grey and angular room, while a rainbow-tinted plexiglass mobile hangs from the ceiling, casting playful shadows.
In addition to locally roasted coffee, Kafka’s will be offering a nice selection of park-friendly food. Executive Chef Nitzan Cohen has designed an “everything-made-from-scratch menu” that includes grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options, as well as kid-focused picnic foods and light sit-down meals (such as the ‘Glory Bowl,’ packed with “a triumphant gathering of avocado, quinoa, kale, radish, egg, Brussels sprouts, tomato, pickled cabbage, arugula, yam hummus, and crispy chickpeas” – a tasty carryover from the menu at Kafka’s GNW and their now closed Main Street location).
Pastry Chef Adi Kesselman’s fresh sourdough and marble rye bread, dark-chocolate raspberry brownies, Earl Grey coffee cake, banana bread muffins, and famous salted chocolate chip cookies will also be available. To top it all off, Kafka’s will have vanilla soft-serve ice cream with chocolate magic shell or rainbow sprinkles.
The City of Vancouver projects that this new park will serve “…over 10,000 residents and 17,000 employees who live and work within a five-minute walk of the area.” That’s a lot of potentially hungry and thirsty people. A cafe will come in handy. Thankfully, The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation was committed to making sure that a local and independent coffee shop was chosen to rise to the challenge.
Kafka’s in the Park opens Saturday, June 4th. Hours will be 8am-6pm, 365 days of the year.
Take a closer look inside…