The proprietor of the new Butterfly Cafe at 2727 Sixth St. SW may be a relative newcomer to the restaurant business, but he is starting with a familiar name.
Roni Halabi is the nephew of John Khairallah, who has owned the Butterfly Cafe at 1616 First Ave NE with his wife, Randa, for about five years.
Halabi, building on the menu that has made the original Butterfly Cafe popular, has added some items like gourmet burgers and quesadillas. 'We plan to offer the same good home cooking and quality service that the Butterfly Cafe has become known for over the years, Halabi said. 'Anything on the menu, including breakfast, is available at all times.
'We get our ground chuck from Fareway and we make our own patties for the gourmet burgers. With all the entrees, we're offering choice of soup, salad, chili or French fries. Halabi said the restaurant offers a Georgia chicken dinner, quesadilla appetizer and farmers breakfast that are not available at the original Butterfly Cafe.
'We also are offering our guests the option of a bottled beer along with the rest of our traditional beverages,' he said.
Halabi said operating the Butterfly Cafe appealed to him for a number of reasons.
'This location really appealed to me,' he said. 'We have a nice mix of business, houses and apartments in the neighborhood.
'This represents a change of careers for me, but given that the family has already been involved with it, I really didn't have to start from scratch. The new Butterfly Cafe will have an initial staff of 10 to 12 employees, including two fulltime cooks and a mix of full -- and part-time servers, 'We're really trying to gauge the tempo of our business, so we're still adjusting our wait staff,' Halabi said. 'We opened June 22 and the neighborhood has been very supportive. We've seen a really good turnout on Sundays. The building at 2727 Sixth St. SW was originally built as a Country Kitchen restaurant when that regional chain operated multiple locations in the Cedar Rapids area. It also has housed a temporary labor service, a sports bar and other businesses.
'We didn't have to do any structural changes,' Halabi said.
'We opened the dining room, added new tables and chairs and spruced up the paint job and insulation. We can comfortably seat about 75 guests, but we could add more seating in the same space. The new Butterfly Cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Halabi said hours may change with customer demand.
By George C. Ford, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa