Monday, January 18, 2016

ten months after a big fire, kefa cafe is back

Kefa Cafe Is Back!
All photos by the author.

Better late than never: I missed the grand reopening of Kefa Cafe, the venerable Ethiopian coffeehouse on Bonifant Street that suffered a big fire last winter. But when I stepped in around 4pm Saturday afternoon, its first day back in business, it seemed like the last ten months hadn't happened. Everything looks as it was: yellow walls, green chairs, menu board rendered in gorgeous cursive handwriting, steady stream of Silver Springers eager for caffeine and a warm welcome from owners/sisters/awesome people Lene and Abeba Tsegaye, who opened the shop twenty years ago.

Inside the Reopened Kefa Cafe

Kefa Cafe Menu Board

Abeba + Lene at the Reopened Kefa Cafe

In the year since the fire, Kefa opened a stand at the Silver Spring Library a block away, which will remain open. But there was "no question" that the cafe would come back, Lene told me Saturday afternoon, adding, "This is home. It just feels right."

It does. If you've had coffee with me over the past several years, chances are it was at Kefa Cafe. (Of course, I will also happily meet you at Zed's, Kaldi's, or Bump 'N Grind.) I'm proud to call it my second office, and I'm far from the first person who'd say that. Kefa's also been an indispensable venue for community events, local artists displaying their work, or for anyone who just wants something to eat.

I'm not just glad to have it back. I'm relieved. Between Kefa and Quarry House Tavern, which also suffered damage in last year's fire, two huge chunks of Silver Spring went missing. With Kefa back and work at Quarry House starting soon, this community can be whole again.

If you haven't already, check out Bill Turque's excellent profile of Kefa Cafe, the Tsegaye sisters, and Silver Spring's growing Ethiopian and African communities in the Post.

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