Moneer Abdo says his efforts to open his new business, Pine Coast Cafe, were "frozen" when Gov. Whitmer's stay-home order went into effect. But now that the order and other restrictions on businesses have been lifted, Abdo and business partner Nasser Mozep are moving full speed ahead to bring their high-quality cafe to East Dearborn.
Abdo and Mozep are also owners of Kidcadia Play Cafe, which opened last summer at 13939 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, next to Pine Coast Cafe. They originally conceived Pine Coast Cafe as a way to offer quality food and drinks for parents who brought their kids to play at Kidcadia.
However, Abdo says he and Mozep "realized we were putting a lot of work, a lot of sweat equity, and a lot of thought into this restaurant, and we didn't want to isolate it to one demographic."
They decided to offer Pine Coast Cafe's food at Kidcadia, but to treat them as two distinct businesses, rather than the cafe existing simply to serve Kidcadia. They developed branding and interior design inspired by the Michigan coast and worked hard on developing a menu that emphasizes quality of ingredients over quantity of menu items. They also made the unique decision to use sous vide for food prep.
"What we wanted to keep was a sort of universal love for the entire menu, so when a customer comes in, they're genuinely confused about what to order because everything is their favorite thing on the menu," Abdo says. "We put a ton of thought into every ingredient, into every sandwich, the way it's layered, the way it's built, the breads."
Then came the lockdown, putting all their plans on hold for three months. Abdo says that timing was "really tough," but he's now planning to open the cafe sometime in early July. As an emergency room doctor at the Detroit Medical Center, he's keeping close tabs on COVID-19's development and anticipating how it will affect the new business.
"Depending on how the pandemic moves forward, we could be shut down or back to the curbside in a very short period of time," Abdo says. "But we have a building, we have a lease we have to maintain, and we don't really have an option. We have to open and wish for the best."
Kidcadia recently reopened to groups who wish to rent out the entire facility, but Abdo and Mozep are also being similarly cautious and realistic about the reopening strategy there.
"I think we can get comfortable now for another few weeks, maybe a month, but we don't have any immediate plans to fully open back up because we think we're going to be right back into another shelter-in-place before we know it," Abdo says.
Abdo is still determined to make the best of the situation and says he's excited to introduce Dearborn to Pine Coast Cafe in whatever way he can.
"We're going to play it according to whatever the state tells us," he says. "We already have our tables spaced out where you can socially distance. As soon as they say, 'Hey, it's time to shut down the restaurants again,' we're prepared to do that. But for now, we're working on outdoor seating and making sure we can give people a little bit of space."