By Lori Fredrich and Bobby Tanzilo Published May 13, 2021 at 10:55 AM

A new brunch spot is slated to open in the former site of the Original Pancake House, 2621 N. Downer Ave., which closed in January.

Canela Cafe, which is expected to open in late summer, will be operated by Dina and Ray Awadallah, who have more than 30 years of restaurant experience.

“The restaurant business is our passion," says Ray Awadallah. "We’ve worked for family for many years, and this was the perfect opportunity to break off on our own. We are really hoping to provide a service that the community wants and needs, while bringing something new to the neighborhood.”

As for the name of the restaurant, Adawallah says that the term "canela" – which means cinnamon in both Spanish and Greek  – came up in the conversation.

"We loved the sound of it," he says, "And cinnamon fits in so well with the overall concept."

What to expect

Adawallah says the menu for the restaurant is currently being developed; but it will focus on locally sourced ingredients and fresh plates, including wraps and sandwiches, pancakes and omelets, and bakery items.

"We will offer classic breakfast dishes," he says, "plus items that are completely different from anything that other brunch spots are serving." 

Upon approval of a liquor license, he says they will also offer a menu of breakfast and brunch drinks including bloody marys and mimosas.

As for the space, Adawallah says they will be making a variety of cosmetic updates, giving the space a vibrant, trendy look with new flooring, fresh paint and re-upholstered booths.

"We are also working with a local artist who is painting a mural inside the space," he says.

“We're thrilled to welcome Canela Cafe to Downer Avenue,” said Elizabeth Brodek, executive director of the Historic Downer Business Improvement District. “The mix of offerings is both accessible and upscale, and we're looking forward to this restaurant rounding out our wonderful mix of businesses on Downer Avenue. This fills a prime space in the district and leaves only two open storefront locations on this vibrant street.”

Canela Cafe will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.