A long-anticipated vegetarian cafe from Kai Avent-deLeon — the founder of Bed Stuy fashion boutique and cafe Sincerely, Tommy — is prepping to open this month.
Che, named after Avent-deLeon’s son, plans to open its doors at 302 Malcolm X Boulevard in October and will serve vegetarian small plates, wine, cocktails, and coffee, according to recent posts on the venue’s Instagram.
The opening was originally set for 2019, when Avent-deLeon gave a tour to Vogue, then in 2020, as part of an offshoot of the Sincerely, Tommy store known as S,T, Eat & Stay. The top two stories of the three-story building, owned by her grandmother, were to be a boutique hostel, with Che on the ground floor.
However, the pandemic hit, upending the world of hospitality and retail. Avent-deLeon helped establish the Tompkins Avenue open-air market known as Market Place, which, paired with the Open Streets program, turned into a hugely successful weekend block party event. Along with two friends, she also launched the Building Black Bed Stuy initiative to support Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood.
In December 2020, Avent-deLeon opened home goods store Raini Home in another family-owned property at 209A Hancock Street near Tompkins Avenue with a variety of objects, furniture designed by Avent-deLeon, and sustainable beauty products from Public Goods. While the physical location of Raini Home closed, furniture made to order in the Brooklyn Navy Yard can be ordered online.
Now it seems the cafe’s opening is imminent: A walk by on Oct. 9 showed preparations are well under way. Visible through the cafe’s full length glass windows were people in the kitchen and a large counter and tables covered with items needed for service. The interior hints at rustic minimalism with white plaster walls, white kitchenware, a handful of sleek wood tables and matching chairs, and a wood banquette. A white marble counter is at the rear of the dining room, and behind it is a pass-through to the kitchen.
Avent-deLeon’s original partner chef Tara Thomas is no longer involved, judging by the posts on Che’s Instagram account. Now, Adam Keita, behind Crown Heights cafe Daughter (which operates the cafe at Sincerely, Tommy’s original Tompkins Avenue location) has joined forces with Avent-deLeon, along with other local creatives and food industry folks, Instagram posts show.
On the Sincerely, Tommy website there is a menu listed for Che, but it’s unclear whether it has been updated since the planned 2019 opening. (Avent-deLeon was not immediately available for comment.) The menu has a range of plant-based offerings, including nopal ceviche and an artichoke burger. Meanwhile, recent posts on Instagram show cinnamon rolls made with sourdough and fresh focaccia being tested for the menu. State records show Che doesn’t yet have a liquor or wine and beer license.
Avent-deLeon said in the Vogue interview the cafe’s decor will be a mix of international styles, with the tableware inspired by her mother’s and grandmother’s home country of Grenada.
“I really wanted this to feel like my trips to Mexico. I just really liked how they literally incorporate everything from the land into any space they have,” Avent-deLeon told Vogue.
According to the Sincerely, Tommy website, Che will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
This story originally appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner.