After 12 years in the same Patton Avenue location, Loretta’s Café is moving to the Meadows Building. The three-story structure, located at 114 North Lexington Ave., will allow for much more space — something that the current location is lacking.
Over the past few months, the Meadows Building’s front windows have been covered in brown paper for the past few months, and there has been a bit of speculation as to what’s going on inside. Apparently, Loretta Wooley, the owner of the café and its namesake, has been re-figuring the bar into a sandwich counter and setting up shop in the downstairs kitchen. She’s also been preparing the third level to be used as an event space — as well as a ping pong table room.
Wooley is a very busy woman — she also owns and cooks at Mayfel’s, a restaurant located just a few blocks away from the current Loretta’s site. Regardless, Wooley seems ready to bear the burden of moving the café from its longtime home at 27 Patton Ave. “We’ve been slowly moving and getting it ready,” she says. “We’re going to have a pretty smooth transition.”
And what makes a person move a restaurant from a location that’s proven itself successful? For Wooley, the answer is simple. “You do things for various reasons, but this is about community, and downtown is a great little community,” she says.
What Wooley means is that she wants to keep prices reasonable and affordable for the community — Loretta’s has long been known as a place to get a great lunch value. However, she says, that just isn’t viable for the long term in the current location. To keep prices at the same low cost that has made Loretta’s a popular haunt for people looking for a cheap lunch, it’s time to expand, says Wooley. “I would never want Loretta’s to go away, simply because a lot of people depend on it that work downtown who can’t afford $12 lunches,” she says.
Currently housed in a building that boasts less than 1,000 square feet, the sandwich shop can can only fit so much staff — which means a limit on the amount of sandwiches that can realistically be made on any given day. “For the past couple of years Loretta’s hasn’t made a lot of money,” says Wooley. “It’s just kind of held its own, barely, even though plenty of people come in there.”
The move also enables the staff of Loretta’s to have a larger kitchen to work with — and one that’s on site. Much of what is served in the Patton Avenue location — the roasted sandwich meats and the chicken salad, for example — is cooked at Mayfel’s, and then wheeled down the street to Loretta’s for service.
“We’ll have more space in the Meadows Building, whereas Loretta’s is currently reliant on Mayfel’s to survive,” says Wooley. “We’ll be independent down there. It’s going to be a good move. It will be a nice comfortable place to go that’s affordable and friendly.”
Loretta’s should make the move in the first week of March.