Opening a business during a pandemic is no easy feat, but Gabriella Lavin of Villa Bakery Cafe didn’t let that stop her from sharing her Brazilian culture with the Brighton area through her new cafe.
“This business is very important to me,” Lavin said. “It is family-run, it is female-run, it is minority-run. It is a Brighton-area small business, and we need businesses like this. We appreciate the support of our customers.”
Lavin was raised and still lives in Brighton. The cafe, located in Brighton on Washington St, opened on Oct. 16 by Lavin and her mother.
“The community is very sentimental to me,” Lavin said. “I was born in St. Elizabeth’s, I went to school in the Brighton area, and my brother is a BC graduate. We are happy to give back to the community.”
Upon entering Villa Bakery Cafe, customers are greeted by a minimal, yet homey atmosphere. The cafe is decorated with plants and pictures, as well as Brazilian products like Dafruta, a fruit juice brand.
The cafe has seen a wide demographic of customers so far, ranging from Americans to Brazilians who have all been in the area for a while.
“I love seeing customers try something new, something out of their comfort zone,” Lavin said.
Customers are greeted by enthusiastic workers who are eager to serve, explain the menu, and carefully serve their products.
Currently, the cafe is counter service only due to the pandemic. Workers wear face masks and gloves, and customers are required to wear facemasks to enter the store. The ground is marked with stickers to facilitate social distancing.
The menu consists of Brazilian dishes like Pao de Queijo, a cheese bread, and Coxinha, a chicken croquette. Other notable items include acai bowls, and Salpicao, which is a chicken salad with corn, olives, apples, raisins, carrots, and potato sticks.
Lavin said that the cafe has plans to expand the menu to include sandwiches, soups, and hot meals, such as beef stew and rice.
The prices range from $2 to $15, with cheese bread being on the low end and acai bowls as the most expensive item.
The Villa acai bowl consists of fresh fruit and is an adequate portion that fills you up. The bowl contains coconut, banana, strawberry, and granola and is well worth the price. The bowl is made fresh and takes time to be assembled before it is served.
“My favorite item is the acai bowl, it is tropical, fruity, and delicious,” Lavin said. “We wanted to capture the true acai flavor.”
The classic cheese bread comes in small rolls and is filled with cheese Although the portion is small, the cafe offers two cheese bread rolls for $1.
If you’re looking to try a different type of food, with sweet and savory options, come to Villa Bakery Cafe. It isn’t too far from campus and offers a reasonably priced bite to eat.
Featured Image by Francesca Giangiulio / Heights Staff