Tuesday, March 23, 2021

A Boba Cafe Makeover for the Former Chalet

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 8:53 PM

Sometimes the universe closes one restaurant and opens another. Stalwart fans of Eureka’s Chalet House of Omelettes have migrated from the shuttered Fifth Street location to its Cutten sibling for breakfast, but the little diner next to Annie’s Cambodian won’t be empty much longer. In fact, the new neighbors will be family.

click to enlarge Sarah Ith Phe and Henry Phe in front of their planned S.I.P. Cafe. - COURTESY OF SARAH ITH PHE
  • Courtesy of Sarah Ith Phe
  • Sarah Ith Phe and Henry Phe in front of their planned S.I.P. Cafe.

Namesake Annie Chau’s sister Sarah Ith Phe and her husband Henry Phe are busy pulling up carpet and painting the interior of the dining room, and replacing the stainless steel panels and hood exterior in the kitchen. Once the makeover and some electrical work is done, they’ll be opening S.I.P., a café serving Taiwanese boba teas, coffee drinks and snacks.

Ith Phe, who grew up in Cambodia and graduated from Eureka High School, worked at a bakery while attending college in the Central Valley and “fell in love with boba tea.” Back in Eureka, she says she told her family, “We need a boba place here.” Indeed, there are few local places where one can score the sweet drinks and no dedicated cafes. She says she’d learned a lot from watching her sister grow and run Annie’s Cambodian with her husband, Chin Chau, started dreaming of her own place. When her sister heard the Chalet might not reopen, Ith Phe kept her eye on it while scouting other possible spaces until it finally became available.

But once up and running, S.I.P. will offer a gamut of boba teas — like milk tea, jasmine and fruit teas — and a snack menu of “little finger foods to go” or to be enjoyed a a few outdoor tables. The menu so far covers breakfast and lunch items like bagels, breakfast burritos, bánh mì sandwiches, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, fried chicken and wings.

The couple is shooting for a May opening but it’s a rough guess, as weather-related road closures have delayed some building supplies already and she and her husband, a former mechanic, are doing much of the remodeling themselves.

“We’re putting in a lot of love,” she says with a laugh.

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal.

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