A new off-campus eatery called Cafe Fraís (pronounced like fry), located on Liberty and 23rd, will open as early as next week, said owner Jason Lund.
“We are aiming for soft openings next week, the first week of October, with a limited menu and hours. We hope to be fully operational by the end of October,” said Lund.
The building is set to be inspected on Thursday, Sept. 28. If it passes, explained Lund, the cafe can move forward with limited hours Monday through Friday.
In addition to selling the staple NY-style pizza and bagels, New-York-themed Cafe Fraís will partner with Trè Gourmet Foodery, a food truck business that sources most of its ingredients from Pennsylvanian farmers and small businesses.
“I’ve teamed up with Trè Locally Sourced to create an amazing menu offering,” said Lund. ”We will also have a great vegan menu offering section, burritos and bowls, fresh made-to-order salads and other items.”
Cafe Fraís is also a member of the iHeart Muhlenberg program, which means students will receive a discount upon showing their ID.
Lund is also making it a point to hire students and is still looking for additional help.
“Presently all positions are open: cashier, line work, events and parties etc.” said Lund, “We’re trying to finalize this week.”
Lund told The Weekly back in April that he plans to work with Dean of Students Allison Gulati to create flexible shifts.
“A big part of my business model is hiring students with a flexible schedule,” Lund told The Weekly in April, “To create an atmosphere for students to have a good job. That’s a big part of this.”
Lund is also talking to the school about creating a delivery service that will bring food straight to the dorms, which is a popular idea among students.
“We will work with the school on what’s allowed and what we’re able to do,” said Lund, “Worst case we bring it to the front door/desk and manage from there. We will figure out how to get orders there though.”
Although most students were willing to check the place out— and quite a few were very excited about the dorm delivery service — Caroline Erb ‘18 worried about the Cafe being too geared towards students.
“Look at the places around it. They fit in with the town, whereas this is a lot more modern-looking,” said Erb. “It just doesn’t seem like it’s geared for Allentown.”
Erb’s biggest concern is potential gentrification of the area.
“I’m worried as to what it will mean if we start to see more of that popping up around here,” said Erb.
She was also critical of the pronunciation of Cafe Fraís.
“I think he’s kind of playing off the typical thing you see today, where it’s ironic things or trendy kind of stuff,” she added.
Erb was happy to hear that Cafe Fraís would be working with local farmers for food sourcing, and hopes those in the area who need jobs — not just students, but adults as well — take advantage of the opportunities.
In addition to the cafe, located on the first floor, the building will house a single apartment upstairs and storage lockers downstairs.
Students have already contacted Lund about renting the 1700 sq. ft. upstairs, which, although still under construction, will include two full bedrooms, one and a half baths and a living area.
The lockers are being constructed now and will be installed within the next two weeks.
Lund had originally planned to open before the start of the semester but ran into a few setbacks.
“City inspections delayed us twice and [we were] compounded by an issue that’s been fixed with life safety and HVAC equipment,” said Lund.
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Normal hours of operation are 7:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m for the cafe, 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. for the lockers. Check muhlenbergweekly.com, which will be listing any updates to the hours of operation.