Many neighbors have asked me what happened to Cafe Sureia, and what will be replacing it. Cafe Sureia unceremoniously closed last summer and by mid-March, signs announcing “Askale Cafe, Coming Soon” appeared on Sureia’s papered-over windows. We met the new owners of Askale Cafe, husband and wife duo, Asratie Teferra and Askale Shiferaw. They were very warm and welcoming, and very excited to tell us about the new place.
The couple have a great story. They raised a family, and now, all grown up, with their adult kids out in the world, they finally decided to make Askale’s dream – an Ethiopian influenced Cafe – a reality. They moved from Northern Virginia to nearby Hyattsville in search of the perfect place to set up shop. They found the now defunct Cafe Sureia and decided to go for it. For now, the plan is to offer casual breakfast, lunch and “light dinner” food service infused with the flavors of Ethiopian cuisine. As they get situated, and the business grows, they would like to expand their offerings. Long term plans include applying for outdoor seating, a more robust dinner service and renewing the beer and wine liquor license that has since lapsed as part of the property. Asratie acknowledged that while their primary focus is to have a “family friendly” atmosphere, they know many patrons may want to have a glass of wine or beer with their dinner, and over time, they would like to make that happen.
Asratie proudly spoke about the origins of coffee, while Askale poured us a strong cup of the caffeinated stuff, carefully asserting that their coffee will be more authentic than what they hand on hand. He asked us if we knew that coffee had its start in Ethiopia. As a daughter of a Colombian immigrant, this was news to me! I sipped. The coffee in my cup was strong, smooth and rich. He went on to explain that they will have monthly traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies for the community to participate in; how traditional Ethiopian coffee service is one of the most recognizable parts of Ethiopian culture, and how they wanted to share this with their new Brookland neighbors. They explained that according to Ethiopian culture, coffee is offered to visiting friends, during festivities, and a daily staple of life. Asratie also spoke passionately about an organization, Books For Africa, that he is on the board of. After Googling around we found out that he grew up “in a one-room grass-covered hut in rural Ethiopia”. Wow! We were humbled that he didn’t even mention this to us during our interview. We look forward to all that this local upstart promises, and hope the neighborhood supports this new business. Askale Cafe will be located at 3629 12th St. NE (between Otis and Newton St.) and will be open Tuesday through – Sunday. They hope to to have a “soft opening” by June 1st and have a Grand Opening shortly soon thereafter. Stay tuned for more info.