At Chhaya Cafe, waffles and coffee are served

Varnana "V" Beuria , chef and owner of East Passyunk Avenue's Chhaya Cafe, says the popular brunch spot was getting overcrowded. They're now two doors down with double the seating. ALJEANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

VARNANA "V" Beuria, 35, of Southwark, is chef/owner of Chhaya Cafe. A native of India, she earned an economics degree from Penn and a degree in culinary arts from Philly's Restaurant School. She recently moved the cafe two doors down on East Passyunk Avenue. The new location is nearly double the capacity to 60 seats, and she's adding at least three employees.

Q: Why'd the biz move?

A: Last year I didn't think we could survive another summer where we were. It was too tight, we got crowded and the waits became unmanageable. My real-estate agent told me about this building, I looked at it and signed a lease.

Q: How much did the build-out cost?

A: The whole thing is costing about $287,000. I put in $62,000 and got a bank loan for $25,000. My brother-in-law gave me $100,000 and my husband gave me another $50,000.

Q: What's new?

A: It is very open and airy and will have a different and brighter feel than the old space. This has a lot of window frontage. We used to have to wrestle with: Are we a brunch spot or a coffeehouse? We tried to be both. I think this space is more of a brunch restaurant with a cafe.

Q: And the name?

A: I didn't want a name that said "bean" or "cup" and was obviously coffee-oriented. I came up with Chhaya, which is Hindi and Sanskrit and means shelter from sun.

Q: Your popular items?

A: We have a bagel sandwich with cream cheese, avocado, tomato and bacon. We do a huevos rancheros waffle, which is two cornbread waffles, black beans, salsa, chorizo, avocado and eggs. Waffles are our specialty. We also siphon coffee.

Q: Your customers?

A: During the week, basically neighborhood residents and merchants on the avenue. On weekends, it's people coming from the suburbs or out of town.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: For the new space, we are adding a full-time manager to run the front of the house, another full-time kitchen person, and we may need to bring on one or two more servers. Four back of the house, six front of the house, but they're not all full time. Four are full time, not including myself.

Q: What are you hoping for the new space to accomplish?

A: To expand menu offerings, starting with the lunch menu, adding some pastries and sandwiches as well as a bread program and making all of our bread in house. We also want to roast all meats in-house, too. I see us approaching $450,000 in revenue a year from now, and 10 percent more the following year.


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