The popular Philadelphia brunch spot rides into town on a reputation for quality. Inside, its latest location, and first in New Jersey, is a showcase of local talent.
By Matt Skoufalos | Photos by Tricia Burrough
It’s not news that the food at Sabrina’s Café is good.
But in bringing the established name of the Philadelphia brunch stalwarts to Collingswood for their first New Jersey location (fifth overall), owners Robert and Raquel De Abreu are lending the strength of those roots to a host of local businesses.
The couple cuts the ribbon on the restaurant at 714 Haddon Avenue on Monday morning, but has been debuting its new digs to friends and family since midweek. Most recently home to the short-lived-but-long-mourned Local Market Collingswood, the old Woolworth Building was a shell when the De Abreus picked it up, “but it had good bones,” said Raquel De Abreu.
“It had a good vibe,” she said. “You walked in and you felt it. You knew it was going to be a Sabrina’s.”
Driving home that sense of place, the couple has worked closely with local craftsmen to “bring Philadelphia over the bridge to Collingswood, but also bring everybody Collingswood,” Raquel De Abreu said.
The dining room tables are the work of Haddonfield woodworker Jeff Purnell of Table and Chairman.
For interior design, the De Abreus turned to longtime collaborator Catherine Kaplan of Home on Haddon.
The host station was fabricated by Tom Marchetty and Josh Longsdorf of The Factory with live-edge wood from Jon Shelley’s Full Circle Woodworx. Local electricians and contractors completed the rest of the work.
The décor of the restaurant also pays homage to the borough. Lining the walls are photographs of the town from bygone years, sourced from Collingswood librarian Brett Bonfield. To those, the restaurant will add a print of the Sabrina’s 9th and Christian Street location from Cherry Hill photographer Jeremy Messler.
The art will hang beside antique maps and the metal sign from the original Sabrina’s location in Philadelphia, fabricated by metalworker Tom Potts.
“That was my dad’s idea,” Raquel De Abreu said. “He said, ‘It’s like a good luck charm, hang that up.’”
Chalk artist Jessie Wolf, who began with Sabrina’s as a waitress before launching her own art studio, Bunkerfish Designs, in Long Beach Island, created and installed three barn-wood chalkboards that hang suspended above communal tables in the dining room.
The family-style seating is another feature that Raquel De Abreu said is unique to the Collingswood location.
“Sometimes you find that people don’t really want to talk in the city,” she said. “In the suburbs, it’s different. It’s a neighborhood. I want people to come together and talk. I want this to be everybody’s kitchen; their home away from home.”
Although the restaurant décor is tailored to reflect the contributions of the surrounding community, in the kitchen, Sabrina’s is bringing the from-scratch reputation for which its menu is known.
“Our food is our food,” Raquel De Abreu said. “We stick to what works: comfort food, a great price point, something for everyone. We’ll start our dinners in about a week here.”
Even among the well-trafficked Restaurant Row, the Collingswood central business district figures to get a boost from the installation of a restaurant with the following—and later hours—of Sabrina’s Café.
Accordingly, reception from other businesses in the neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, Raquel De Abreu said.
“Everybody’s so happy,” she said. “Some people haven’t heard of us in this neighborhood, but they’re so happy that we’re here.”
Sabrina’s Café will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.