With ambitious renovation, Taylor’s Cafe aims to add Roxborough newcomers to the customer mix

Taylor’s Cafe has long been a staple of the Roxborough community with generations of families gathering at the Ridge Avenue eatery for a cup of coffee and their favorite breakfast or lunch.

In 2011, Jay and Si Soon bought the cafe — ownership has changed hands several times through the years — and initially maintained the decor and offered a similar menu.

As many small businesses along the corridor have been working to revitalize the Ridge, the Soons decided they too wanted to join the effort. They did so in a big way.

Renovation plan

The Soons shut down their restaurant for three months and, in November, reopened the doors. It was barely recognizable from the place it had once been.

A beautiful outdoor patio, oak finished tables, clean whites and silvers, clear bar stools and coffee mugs bring a bright contemporary feel to the restaurant that had remained static for so many years.

“The renovations came as a shock to many,” said Hak Cheng, who was brought in to head the front of house.

Cheng’s repertoire is nothing to scoff at; he was a sous chef at Le Bec Fin and has managed restaurants in both New York City and Philadelphia.

“At first, some of the regulars were uncomfortable with the changes, but they needed to be done,” he said. “Taylor’s was dark and it was dingy. It was a hole in the wall. … We wanted to attract the younger crowd of people who have been moving into Roxborough.”

More than changing appearances

It wasn’t just the interior that underwent a major overhaul. Fresh-pressed orange juice, La Colombe coffee and espresso, breads from LeBus, a frozen ice-cream machine and the addition of BYOB are just a few highlights of the new menu at Taylor’s.

They will expand from the current breakfast and lunch to a full dinner menu once the weather gets warmer.

“Our chef worked long and hard on the menu,” Cheng said. “We went around to different restaurants in the area and studied what people liked; we saw what was working and what wasn’t and we built the menu with care.

“We’re not perfect, but we’re constantly taking feedback and making the changes needed to make our customers happy.”

One such change, Cheng noted, is the 55-and-over menu which, realizing they had lost some of the older customers who had been used to certain items and prices, was introduced last month.

“Yes, we’re looking for a young crowd, but we don’t want to exclude anyone either,” Cheng said. “We want everyone in the community to want to come to Taylor’s.

“We can’t wait for spring. We have a lot of ideas for events and of being a place for the community to gather … I personally see a bright future for Taylor’s.”

Located at 6144 Ridge Ave., Taylor’s is currently open Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal