Many married couples commemorate their wedding anniversary by going to a nice restaurant, but Mt. Airy residents Jania and Desmin Daniels one-upped that tradition. Last Tuesday, on their seventh anniversary, the Daniels celebrated the grand opening of their Germantown restaurant, Rose Petals Café and Lounge.
The restaurant at 322 West Chelten Ave. has been a longtime goal for the couple, the parents of two young boys, and a family labor of love. The café’s name honors Desmin’s sister, who was murdered in Mt. Airy a few years ago, and features original recipes inspired by Desmin’s grandmother.
“It’s exhilarating,” Jania said from behind the counter on opening day, serving coffee and pastries to a steady stream of customers. It’s been a long road to launching their business, which was originally scheduled to open in mid-July.
“We had a list of a million things, and there’s really a million and ten,” she said of keeping on top of all the unexpected details.
“We’re running on adrenaline,” Desmin said as he unloaded cases of water from his truck at the curb.
Last week, the couple “slow-rolled” their launch with a menu of fresh fruit smoothies and pastries from Little Jimmie’s Bakery and Café in Mt. Airy, as well Rose Petals’ signature waffles and “Petal Cakes” pancakes. They launched their full range of breakfasts, including French toast and omelets, as well as a lunch menu including warm and cold sandwiches, over the weekend.
For breakfast, the menu contains specialties like “Grandma’s Love,” a buttermilk waffle served with caramelized apples; “Waffle Quesadillas,” which are two waffles stuffed with cheese, ham, tomatoes, peppers and onions; and Jania’s personal favorite, the “Spinach Waffle,” packed with spinach, Gouda and feta cheeses and topped with chicken sausage and sour cream.
The menu also has a range of waffle and pancake batter options, including buttermilk, wheat, chocolate and peanut butter.
For lunch, the menu gives way to specialty chicken salad and seafood salad sandwiches, corned beef brisket on French bread, and the “Philly Special,” hot turkey pastrami and salami with smoked Gouda and spicy mustard on soft pretzel bread. For those who want a taste of autumn year-round, the “Giving Thanks” sandwich has honey roasted turkey with cheddar, arugula and cranberry mayonnaise on Ciabatta bread.
In developing their menu, the Daniels thought carefully about making it accessible to even those with dietary restrictions. They offer a gluten-free waffle and pancake batter option, and serve chicken and turkey sausage and bacon instead of pork.
“We don’t eat pork in our home,” Jania said, adding that there are many others in Philadelphia who do the same for health or religious reasons. “We felt we could cater to that both for ourselves and for the community.”
The Daniels have hired a staff of 11, excluding themselves, to work the restaurant. South Philadelphia resident Angela Ficco, a recent graduate of Temple University, came on board in July.
“I don’t know Germantown well at all, but I’ve been learning more in the past couple weeks,” she said.
“I’m optimistic,” she added of the restaurant’s chance of success. “I think they’re a really nice couple, a nice family. It’s been coming together.”
After serving some of their first customers in the morning, the Daniels looked forward to welcoming their family and friends for a private party on-site to celebrate the launch.
“You feel a sense of accomplishment but you also know there’s a lot more work to be done to really get it the way you want,” Jania said.
Rose Petals Café and Lounge will be open for full breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., they’ll reopen for a special Latin-Soul fusion dinner menu, with live entertainment on select Saturday evenings.