Having run refined farmhouse bistro The Whitlock successfully since October 2017, opening a casual breakfast-lunch café several doors down Katonah Avenue should be relatively easy for owners Matt and Christina Safarowic, right? Think again.
“There’s no breakfast in the area,” says Matt, “so we’ve been slammed.”
“And the speed [of breakfast service],” adds Christina. “Were we in for a surprise that first week. We’ve been living in bliss in the fine-dining world. The breakfast business is no joke! But we’re loving the challenge and embracing the new pace.”
The couple transformed the former KR Café space into an all-day café concept in December, akin to those “Manhattan coffee shops where patrons have their fill of whatever, whenever,” explains Christina. They added modern furniture to play off of the classic speckled, white, deep countertop that was there from the previous occupant.
Jay Street’s menu plays classic-modern, as well. On the breakfast portion, for example there’s the traditional (steel-cut oatmeal, pancakes, challah French toast, omelets) but also playful, contemporary dishes, like breakfast corndogs, grapefruit brûlée, and poached egg-quinoa power bowls.
“We try to find a balance between what the diners expect from a luncheonette-type place,” says Christina, “but we also get a ton of out-of-towners looking for that fun breakfast spot. This balance allows us to welcome a larger audience.”
Lunch offerings include soups and sandwiches, vegetable bowls, a BLT and flattop patty burger, tuna salad, egg salad, root beer floats, plus blue-plate specials. (Dinner service is scheduled to launch sometime this month.)
Most breads are done in-house, and daily desserts include cakes, pies, coffee cakes, cookies, and tarts, via Johnson & Wales-trained pastry chef Tayler Kissam. Local purveyors include Dam Good English Muffins (Croton-on-Hudson), Longford’s Own Made Ice Cream (Stamford), and City of Saints’ (Brooklyn) coffee and espresso.
One might think a chef with two popular restaurants would be overwhelmed by the challenge of running both simultaneously. “If you had told me five years ago that I’d have two busy restaurants, I’d be happy,” explains Matt. “So, I’m not going to complain now. It’s a good problem as to how I will divide my time.”
63 Katonah Ave, Katonah