Just over a year ago, Café Royal, situated on Nassau Avenue between Humboldt and Russell Streets was struggling.
Enter the owner of the building, Sean Cohane, who along with his brother Josh agreed to take over the restaurant, albeit to reintroduce it in a different avatar.
Last summer, Café Edna was in business, and in just under a year, it’s bustling.
On a recent afternoon, patrons talked animatedly with the barista, while others studied the chalk-drawn menu on the wall, and others still waited on a red-cushioned bench close to the entrance.
Like many Greenpoint residents, Cohane, the owner, is a multi-hyphenate – He’s an investment banker, a real estate developer, expresses a desire to be involved in community activism, but right on top of that list is opening and running a restaurant.
“The people really make this place what it is,” said Cohane. “I’m not really a cool guy but I’m good at using intellectual capital. The people who work here are cool and I let them run the place. I love interacting with everyone that comes in and the energy here is amazing.”
Just two short weeks ago, Café Edna received its liquor license. It’s no longer your run-of-the-mill coffee shop. Brunch cocktails: check.
It opens for breakfast at 7 a.m. and stays open until 6 p.m. offering a newly curated lunch menu in the afternoons.
Things are set to heat up over the summer for Café Edna, according to its operations manager, Lancelot Runge. It’s looking to serve coffee until 9 p.m., continuing as a bar afterward with performances by artists and musicians from the neighborhood.
In fact, Café Edna continues to evolve with the needs of its patrons. Some complained at the beginning about the numerous rules – restricted access to the wi-fi being the primary concern. Runge explained it was because they were going for more of a restaurant vibe in the early days.
Now that’s all changed, besides, Runge said, it would be totally unreflective of the community to operate that way.
“It was slow when I started around the New Year, but enhancements to our menu have really livened up the place and I’m really optimistic about the future,” said Runge.
The man responsible for that is the restaurant’s long-term chef Juan Paredes. He worked at the establishment while it was Café Royal, and he continued onward.
“We started with just a few items on the menu, but because of everyone’s support and encouragement the menu has really expanded,” said Paredes. “We need a bigger kitchen!”
Café Edna is named after Cohane’s mother, a formidable chef in her own right, according to her son. Next up: He’s working to bring her down from Rhode Island for a cooking session at her namesake.
195 Nassau Avenue
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