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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Passion Behind Sixth Street's New Passion Cafe Is the Slow-Burning, Long-Lasting Kind

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Positively Sixth Street.
  • Positively Sixth Street.
Restaurants always take much longer to open than their owners expect. That's no surprise. But when Steve Barton mentions that he and business partner Jacques André have been renovating Passion Cafe for two and a half years, the muscles connecting lower jaw to skull lose all strength. "Well, the first year and a half was virtually spent getting permits and plans," explains Barton, a general contractor who owns the Sixth Street building housing the restaurant. Needless to say, the name reflects the work they've put into turning a run-down, century-old building into a light-filled cafe with a full prep kitchen in the basement and a rooftop deck.

With construction finished and inspections signed off on, Barton says Passion Cafe only lacks a full staff ― a process the pair say should be finished soon. He estimates the opening date as sometime next week or the week after. Passion Cafe will be open from morning until night, morphing from coffee bar with pastries to full-service bistro as the day passes (it will also sell coffee drinks and tarts from a window at the front of the building). André is a Parisian who has run restaurants in both Paris and Guadeloupe, and he's taking the menu classic French ― croques monsieur, boeuf bourguignon (bet you haven't had that in a few years), and a wide variety of tarts, both savory and sweet.

The rooftop deck.
  • The rooftop deck.
Despite its proximity to the business and shopping districts, that block of Sixth hasn't seen a restaurant the likes of Passion Cafe for decades. And Barton says people have been warning him that the neighborhood wouldn't take his arrival well. But so far, he's been pleased. "We wanted to do something that could help elevate the neighborhood," Barton says. "Not in a gentrification way but an inclusive way, to give people who live here some pride that someone came in here and treated the neighborhood nice. It has worked in our behalf ― everyone that is on the street has shown us so much respect, and we've shown it to them, too. Since we've taken down our barricades last month, no one has tried to be injurious to the building, to tag it or break windows. I feel as though we've built a nice rapport."

Passion Cafe 28 Sixth St. (at Stevenson), 437-9730; www.passioncafe.net. Starting schedule: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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