Richard and Christina Cusack envision a ‘vegan-forward, vegetarian cafe’ in the French style, with locally roasted coffee, cheese plates, and a relaxed atmosphere.
By Matt Skoufalos | August 25, 2022
Last week, Richard and Christina Cusack celebrated the one-year anniversary of their French fine dining establishment, June BYOB, in Collingswood.
For year two, the Cusacks are readying a new concept for a second storefront in town: the former Endgrain coffee bar located in the front of The Factory on Fern Avenue.
This fall, the couple will open Café Le Jardin, a casual café with a “vegan-forward vegetarian menu” and a tea and coffee program headlined by products from Bean 2 Bean Coffee of Philadelphia.
For the Cusacks, the new venture is both an expression of the warm reception they’ve found in Collingswood since relocating June there from the East Passyunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, and an opportunity to create a space with healthier fare — particularly for children.
“I always wanted to do something like this,” said chef Richard Cusack. “I wanted to see my kids more; this is a place where they can come by. If I’m feeding my kids, I might as well feed everyone else’s kids too.”
Christina Cusack said the decision to create a meatless menu arose from the strong customer demand for vegan prix fixe dinners at June.
“We thought, ‘We’re onto something here,’” she said. “This is what people want; there’s a need for this.”
Café Le Jardin will also give the chef a chance to challenge himself in the kitchen. He promises a menu not consisting of meat substitutes, but one that showcases skillfully executed vegan and vegetarian recipes.
“[Richard] loves learning, and trying new things,” Christina Cusack said. “He’s having a good time, and you’re going to see that in the food. You’re going to see his style and appreciation for everything.”
“Making a vegetarian menu gives me a chance to be creative,” Richard Cusack. “It’s all veg; you can’t hide anything. [As a chef,] you’d better show up.”
The café will launch with lunch service and light fare, with a planned expansion into dinner service in the future. Menus will change seasonally, complemented by a gourmet cheese program, some imported specialties, and possibly a winery partnership.
“I love cheese,” Richard Cusack said. “I’m bringing in the best French cheese I can, plus cheese from upstate New York and California.”
The Cusacks are also hyper-focused on the customer experience, which at Café Le Jardin will mean décor built around comfortable seating, greenery, and a slow-paced environment that encourages guests to linger and enjoy themselves.
“I want people to sit down and chill; have a cup of coffee,” Richard Cusack said. “If I’m slow and there’s nothing to do, I’ll come out and play chess with you.
“In France you sit there and have coffee, and you’re not in a rush to go anywhere,” the chef said. “Eating cheese and hanging out; that’s what I like.”
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Christina Cusack said she wants guests to feel comfortable bringing their laptops to work in a welcoming environment, or grabbing a social moment with neighbors and their kids.
“It feels nice and energetic there,” she said. “I love that [The Factory] feels like a whole community.”
The couple is also able to consider a second location because of the strength of the June BYOB crew, some of whom will help establish the new space.
“We already have a great staff lined up,” Christina Cusack said. “We’re going to have a strong and trusted team. We’re lucky to have the team we have.”
Since bringing their business to Collingswood, the Cusacks have felt the embrace of the community. They’re hopeful that their latest concept will be as warmly received.
“Everybody’s welcomed us with open arms,” Christina Cusack said. “I hope they feel the same about this new spot, and they’re excited about this.
“We like having a business in Collingswood,” she said. “We want to bring everything we can offer to the town.”
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