In August of this year, Cafe Moca, a vegetarian and vegan neighborhood staple, closed the doors of its Bushwick location at 108 Central Ave., giving a scare to many of its dedicated local customers. But, the good news is, the closure was only temporary, as it reopened this past Saturday, Dec. 18, with a festive atmosphere full of holiday decor and music.
Some may recognize the name Cafe Moca from its Ridgewood location, situated at 487 Seneca Ave. The Ridgewood location, which is the original, opened in 2019 and remained open throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, selling food and beverages through a window to comply with regulations. The Bushwick location originally opened a year ago, in December 2020.
Cafe Moca is a family-owned-and-operated business. Josefina Hernández is the face of public relations, her daughter Jennypher Ureña is the CEO, and her stepson Colby Rodriguez is the general manager.
“When we started thinking about opening the restaurant, it was a long time ago with my daughter, Jennypher. Since she was 10 years old, she was very interested in doing this type of work,” said Hernández. “She started studying everything related to restaurants, how to grow businesses. She’s always been into that field.”
According to Hernández, a Bushwick resident who immigrated from the Dominican Republic 27 years ago, expanding to Bushwick was only natural.
“Bushwick is a very important neighborhood for me,” said Hernández, who lives half-a-block away from Cafe Moca on Central Avenue. “We are Bushwick residents and we care about Bushwick. We are here to provide a service [and] also provide an environment where people feel comfortable.”
“We’re glad to be back, to get the support of the Bushwick community,” added Rodriguez, who explained that the name Cafe Moca was inspired by the town in the Dominican Republic that Hernández grew up in. “During the pandemic, I found that the community was very supportive and we really appreciate that.”
Cafe Moca will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the possibility of opening at 8 a.m. in the near future. The cafe will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 for the holidays. Throughout the new year, the Bushwick location plans to be open Thursday through Monday each week.
For now, the cafe’s drink menu still offers the same daily roasts, cold brews, espresso drinks and smoothies that customers are familiar with. The cafe’s food menu, which previously shared the same options as the Ridgewood location, has been reduced until the Cafe Moca team grows bigger.
“We always want people interested in working with us,” said Hernández. “If we cannot hire someone at the moment, we keep the contact information.”
When asked about upcoming events, Hernández shared that, although there isn’t anything concrete planned, she is excited about what the team can do with the backyard space.
“Since we have a backyard, we always thought about having space for the community. This is one of our goals, to open the space for community events, for community meetings, for things that show we can be part of the changes in Bushwick,” said Hernández, who has been a community organizer for 15 years, having worked with nonprofits throughout the city, including Make the Road New York in Bushwick. “We would love to be able to provide this location for events that promote Bushwick as a community. Everybody is welcome and can be part of the change.”
Other events that Hernández is looking forward to as the weather warms are open mics for the many young artists in the neighborhood.
“We invite you to come to our cafe because this is something from our heart. It’s not just food and coffee, it’s our heart,” said Hernández.
All images taken by Allie Iliana Herrera unless otherwise specified.
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