Counter Cafe co-owner Debbie Davis's goal is for regulars to walk into their new location and say, "This is Counter Cafe." Davis's emphasis on re-creating the feel of the original goes beyond a desire to create a successful second outpost. The Lamar location's future is unclear. "We'll stay at 626 Lamar for as long as they'll have us," Davis says. "But our lease is up in two years, and at this point in time, we have no guarantee to renew."
Eater reported the restaurant's plans to expand to the former East 6th post office building last week; the renovated space will also house a new restaurant from the Contigo team. Davis tells Eater the space appealed to her in part because the building also has a "mid-century" design. "My goal is to recreate the feel of the Lamar location."
The Lamar location is very, very tiny at only 700 square feet; the new East 6th location is double that size. Much of what Davis is excited about is creating better working conditions for her staff and co-owners, brother cooks Nick and Steve Cruz. The counter will look "exactly like" the original location's but now there will be a full-sized open kitchen, as opposed to a cramped line only 29 inches deep. A bigger kitchen also means the restaurant will be able to expand their menu slightly, and will bring back their fried oysters.
Davis says she'd be happy to continue operating two locations in perpetuity. That said, she's also savvy about the realities of downtown real estate. "I have two years left at the existing location, and if they say the'll renew [our lease], I'll stay there. But what if they tell us in twenty-two months we don't have a lease? It takes a year to move a restaurant."
The second Counter Cafe should open in late summer for breakfast and lunch, with dinner service possible within the first year as well.
· All Counter Cafe Coverage [EATX]