CROWN HEIGHTS — A neighborhood café in Crown Heights is looking to add cocktails to their assortment of coffee and crepes next year.
Lakou Café, at 195 Utica Ave. is quickly becoming popular for its Haitian patties, blended juices and Kava drinks—a non-alcoholic drink that promotes relaxation. Owners Cassandre Davilmar and Isiah Michael opened the cafe in May 2018 as a daytime pastry hub. But with the addition of social events in the evening, the menu is calling for something more—mixed drinks.
“We wanted to have a place where both Kava drinkers and alcohol drinkers would come and there’s no place like that right now,” Davilmar said.
Davilmar, 30, a Brooklyn, native enlisted mixologist Thomas Prieto to stir up the beverages. Prieto’s concoctions will complement the wings, plantains and bruschetta already served during event nights. Now patrons can expect savory cocktails during the café’s art shows and movie night on Wednesdays.
The 550 sq. ft. café seats about 30 when you include the handmade bench they picked up from Freetown, a West African cafe that closed in Newark, NJ. Extra seating will come in handy as Davilmar expects serving cocktails will attract a larger evening crowd.
While the concept of a cafe-to-cocktail establishment may sound unique, at this Crown Heights retail corridor (along Utica Avenue from Park Pl. to Empire Blvd.) it’s hard to find just a cocktail.
Where the cafe stands, (between Park Place and Sterling Street) there are a couple of Chinese restaurants, hair salons and other independent retailers. Two of the seven vacant storefronts on the block are under construction. In the surrounding area, there are seven liquor stores and one lounge two blocks away. But there isn’t a single cocktail restaurant for 15 blocks south along Utica Avenue or its neighboring avenues.
Unlike the western part of Crown Heights, this section remains untapped when it comes to social spots. Haitian game night and art shows are the lawyer-turned-business woman’s way of creating a space for people to congregate. After all, Lakou means courtyard in Haitian Creole—a place where people come together to celebrate and hold spiritual meetings.
“We just try to create community here,” Davilmar said. “That’s our goal essentially.”
Lakou Café opens at 7:00 am and closes at 7:00 pm. on weekdays. On weekends they open at 8:00 am. They’ll close at midnight during the week and 2:00 am on weekends once they begin serving alcoholic beverages. Community Board 8’s liquor license committee voted unanimously to support their New York State Liquor Authority recommendation on Dec. 13.