Cafe Alyce has taken over the former spot of Medical Center Luncheonette at 641 Montgomery Street in Jersey City. Founded by the same owners of Hooked JC, Cafe Alyce was something that has been in the works since before Hooked JC even began in 2017. Still in its soft opening stages since opening at the end of July, the new breakfast and lunch restaurant will eventually become something even bigger — and Hoboken Girl has the scoop. Read on for more information about Cafe Alyce from the owners themselves.
How Cafe Alyce Came About
Natalie Miniard, a co-owner of Cafe Alyce, had initially come across 641 Montgomery Street upon meeting Tommy and Sia, the original owners of Medical Center Luncheonette for 60 years. Miniard, a Realtor with Triplemint who has resided in Jersey City for the last 25 years, has been eyeing the spot as a place to do business. Around the same time, she reconnected with a pal from junior high school, Tory Aunspach, and introduced him to the location. Aunspach, formerly a private chef for mega yachts, immediately saw the potential of opening a cafe and moved to Jersey City five years ago.
After waiting until the owners were ready to sell the Luncheonette, Aunspach and Miniard launched Hooked JC, a seafood shack turned ghost kitchen. There, they prepared meals for four different kitchens: Hooked JC, Comfort Cookery, Lit Burger, and Green Things.
Eventually, Tommy and Sia decided to hand over the Luncheonette, and ever since then, especially after seeing what Cafe Alyce has become, they didn’t have any regrets and are very happy with the outcome.
Miniard tells Hoboken Girl, “It’s been a long time coming. It’s been really exciting. It’s been a challenge, with what’s been going on in the world. We’ve been able to open for months, but we waited until it made some kind of sense.”
Inside Cafe Alyce
The two business partners wanted to make sure the Luncheonette was not forgotten when they went to work on the interior setup of the restaurant. When guests walk inside, they still will see similarities between the two cafes. A big one that sticks out is the “Luncheonette” sign. We’re told the fluorescent lights that were from the kitchen were repurposed into the sign. Another feature that is unique to the cafe is the old vintage chandeliers that were handmade from a lamp maker in Jersey City.
The old radiators were repurposed into shelves on the wall. Once seated at the bar stools, patrons will find dated coins that were found under the radiators and embedded into the bar counter, and topped with shiny wood.
“I figured [the coins] had been here for 40 to 50 years, so I didn’t want to take them out now. Anything that I feel like had real historical value to this building, we tried to save,” Aunspach says.
The owners noted that they kept the original floors. The coffee that was served in the building, which comes from a company that’s been around for about 100 years, is still going to be served.
About the Menu
Breakfast at Cafe Alyce is served from 8AM to 11AM and then after that, lunch is served until 3PM. The breakfast menu consists of shakshuka grits, aloo paratha poached egg, bulgogi beef breakfast skillet, house-cured salmon and eggs, corned beef hash, shrimp and grits, oatmeal, and smoothies among other things.
The lunch menu consists of the Cafe Alyce burger, corned beef sandwich, bulgogi beef sandwich, fried chicken sandwich, halloumi and Havarti grilled cheese, peanut lime salad, and roasted grapefruit and cottage cheese salad among other things.
“I feel like our breakfast menu is more American than what you see at your average diner. I was raised in the south, so the grits we get from Oxford, Mississippi — the owner only ships to 120 of the best restaurants in the US — and we get gulf of Mexico wild-caught shrimp,” says Aunspach, who has worked in the hospitality industry for over 25 years, says. “I think all that stuff really makes a difference.”
The baked goods come from nearby Hudson Bakery and the biscuits and aloo paratha are made in-house. Also, a specialty, which guests have been raving about, is the homemade hash browns.
Aunspach shares the secret behind how the hash browns are made: “They’re made from scratch. We boil them, we shock them in ice water, we chill them overnight, and then we shred them, toss them with butter and seasoning. Then we bake them off in the oven, punch them into little circles, and then cook them one more time before they hit the plate. We cook them with butter and finish them off in the oven, and the little pieces around the edges we use for our corn beef hash.”
What’s to Come
Aunspach and Miniard still have their work cut out for them. Although they are only open four days a week right now – Thursday through Sunday from 8AM to 3PM, they plan on eventually operating six days a week.
Still to come is a dinner menu that will start out on the weekends down the road, as well as a soon-to-come delivery service and pick up. In the near future, patrons can also expect liquor delivery from the nearby Pastore Wines & Liquors.
Since the cafe is BYOB, the owners wanted to partner with Pastore so that diners can order wine or beer from an app that will be available to scan on the tables and then can be delivered to the restaurant. That way, people can have mimosas, for example, at the cafe with the restaurant’s freshly squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice.
“We hope to be here for a long time,” Aunspach says. “We’re trying to make authentic, real food from scratch that people can really enjoy.”
To keep up with Cafe Alyce, follow along on Instagram here.