WENONAH – Just three months after a small-town coffee shop closed its doors here, a new cafe has filled its spot.
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Many were disappointed after Chompsky’s, a quirky, dog-friendly cafe closed abruptly at the end of August. Now, Daily Grounds owner Ilias Tsakiris has brewed up a new take on the 1 East Mantua Ave location, spearheading the return of a local gathering place.
“I think the vibe is the same. … It’s just the looks that’s changed a bit,” Tsakiris said.
Customers might still be adapting to the new interior, which opts for a more laid-back energy, but, judging by the bustle of customers milling in and out during the Dec. 1-3 opening weekend, many are welcoming the return of what Tsakiris calls a community “hub.”
Mary and Rick Wonderlin visited the shop with their son Todd Wonderlin and granddaughter Ellie Wonderlin, on Dec. 2.
“The food is delicious. My cappuccino’s great. I like the atmosphere,” Mary Wonderlin said enthusiastically, sitting by the front window next to her young granddaughter. This was her first time grabbing breakfast at the “cozy” Wenonah location.
Unlike his parents, Todd Wonderlin had been familiar with the turf when it was still Chompsky’s.
“We enjoyed it here when it was Chompsky’s, so we’re glad it’s back open,” Wonderlin said, also applauding some of the new seating configurations.
Others, like customer Lance Harris who brought his dog Auggie, were happy to finally have weekend doggy biscuits back — that’s right, Daily Grounds is sticking to the perfect recipe for a morning well spent: coffee with your four-legged friends.
“I even posted on Facebook one day, asking, “Are they still going to be dog friendly?'” Harris said chuckling.
More:New on the block: Daily Grounds takes over Chompsky’s front
Tsakiris, with a hearty Greek heritage, explained that what he wants patrons to feel a sense of community, one that is so culturally linked to coffee shops in Greece.
“It’s our hub,” he said. “What I’m trying to do here is recreate that.”
More:‘I’m pretty tired’: Beloved South Jersey coffee shop announces abrupt closing date
Tsakiris said Chompsky’s owner Alex MacPhail reached out to him about the space after his decision to shutter the three-year-old business, and the rest was history.
Those stopping in to get their caffeine fix can also count on seeing new and old faces behind the counter. About 70 percent of the current staff is made up of former Chompsky’s employees, Tsakiris said.
Daily Grounds hours and menu
The new cafe will be staying open an extra two hours compared to its predecessor, with weekday hours of 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and weekend hours of 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
An extension of the menu includes lunchtime options like soups and sandwiches. Other offerings will include a mixture of new and old recipes and, of course, doggie donuts that Tsakiris said will be available a few weeks after the opening.
Kaitlyn McCormick writes about trending issues and community news across South Jersey for the Courier Post, The Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times. If you have a story she should tell, email her at [email protected]. And subscribe to stay up to date on the news you need.