Take a first look inside Mela’s Café in Kew Gardens Hills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Mela’s Café may be replacing another diner in Kew Gardens Hills when it opens on Wednesday, but owners promise it will bring new flavor in more ways than just taste.

The left side of the restaurant has booths and tables with exposed brick walls, while the right side has large windows that will guide in natural light, giving customers different ways to experience the eatery. The diner seats 90 people, but it can expand it to about 120 seats if necessary.

cleared space

There are electrical outlets and USB ports scattered around the restaurant so patrons can charge their mobile devices, and free Wi-Fi is set up for people needing to use the Internet. With these features, they expect to attract the younger crowd from nearby Queens College.

“If we are going to make a difference we can’t go old, we have to think now,” said Melissa Guzman, daughter of the owner and the morning manager. Owner Franklin Rivera named the diner after her nickname, Mela.

Booths 2

Mela’s Café will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In terms of food, head chef David Nunez will be mixing his knowledge of Latin dishes with various flavors from other nationalities, such as Japanese, to bring a new culinary experience to the neighborhood.

“We didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh that’s a Dominican family so it’ll be only Dominican food,” Guzman said.

large windows

However, at the moment Mela’s is still waiting to get liquor license approval, so they won’t be selling alcohol for a little while.

Although Mela’s will bring many new features to the area, the one thing that may be familiar to local customers will be the staff.

There are 45 employees in the establishment, according to the human resources manager, and owners made a push to rehire servers from the former restaurant, because of their proximity to the diner and familiarity with neighborhood.

The family held an emotional meet-and-greet on Friday to thank community members and leaders for their support. They are looking forward to introducing their food to the neighborhood.

“To be honest, I’m anxious and nervous, but I’m very excited,” Guzman said. “This is a big [moment] for my family. I’m pretty stoked.”

Mela's family

Visit the restaurant’s website for more information.

 

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