Photo by Bang Images

Need dinner? There’s a new café full of grab-and-go options to eat cold or reheat at home right on Broadway in the former Jojo’s spot next to Gianmarco’s. The menu is ever-changing and comes with dishes in different sizes for different families. To learn more about it, we chatted with owner Joy Smith about the name Sorelle (pronounced “sorell-lay”) and what all we can find inside. Fun fact: Sorelle also has a water cooler, dog bowl and dog treats in front of the café for runners, walkers and passersby. It’s open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

How did Sorelle come to be?

When I was a little girl, we were driving down the road, and there was this shed behind someone’s house. My mom said, “Wouldn’t that be the cutest little restaurant?” That idea stuck with me since I was 7. My mom and I always cooked together, and I always wanted to have a neighborhood café where you can get to know your community. I noticed at a young age that when I fed people, I brought them joy, and it brought me joy.

And then what happened?

I have been in the food industry since I was 16, but most recently I was a preschool teacher. I loved it, but I still had the nagging feeling to do this. Five and a half years ago I started feeding people and trying recipes, and it grew from there. I started catering, and right before COVID I started doing grab-and-go food from my commercial kitchen on Linden Avenue behind Savage’s. It was good because corporate catering stopped with COVID. When this space came available where A Social Affair was, I jumped off the cliff and did it. I have driven by this spot for 17 years, and this has all been a fantasy.

What can we find in your refrigerators today?

We have breakfast, lunch and dinner options. We have cold sandwiches and salads that you can sit here and eat. But it’s mainly grab-and-go. Right now we have quiches and frittatas made with local farm fresh eggs. We have different breakfast casseroles and breakfast puffs, like a French toast. All our salad dressings are made in house. We have appetizers like spinach artichoke dip and creamy mushroom drip.The roasted veggie pesto pasta is delicious just how it is, but you can also heat it up and add shrimp. The corn salad is good how it is or as a dip or as an accompaniment with fish. We love our grilled ginger lime chicken so much that we put it on one of our sliders and on our house salads. We never knew we were going to make so much chicken pesto salad and green beans with caramelized shallots.

We have breaded pan-fried chicken breasts with rice and a sage cream sauce, chicken parmesan, pork tenderloin medallions with a mustard-sage sauce and creamy polenta, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. We have ginger roasted carrots and honey roasted sweet potatoes; we have done broccoli and pan fried corn. We have one freezer section and do a chicken pot pie and a veggie pot pie loaded with root vegetables, green beans and peas; all our crusts are handmade.

Where did the name Sorelle come from?

When I was starting this, a friend would remind me to prioritize the most important thing to do here. I realized the most important thing was my girl tribe. I was calling them every five minutes and asking, “What do you think about this? What do you think about that?” That’s what we do, right? Where would be without each other? Sorelle means sisters in Italian. It’s feminine and it’s delicate, but it’s strong, which is exactly what we are. Our tagline is “good for your soul” because while some of things are healthier options, it’s about balance. You have to feed your soul as well in more ways than one.

What new things will we see in the café later this year?

Fanoula Gulas, The Greek Kouzina, makes melt-in-your-mouth baklava and spanakopita that we will have soon, and she will sublease from me. I will start selling Beehive Bakery muffins and breakfast cookies soon, and we might sell little charcuteries for a cocktail hour 5-7 p.m.