The giant cups are gone and the building pops with a fresh coat of teal paint — one might not recognize the old Cafe Cups building when driving down Pioneer Avenue, which marks is transformation into the new location for Little Mermaid.
The restaurant will celebrate its move from its smaller building on the Homer Spit boardwalk into town by opening for take out service on Friday. It’s been a long time coming for owners Kathy and Evan Vogl, who closed on the building in November.
Cafe Cups closed its doors in September, making the building available. The actual building, built in 1934, has been home to many over the years, from the time it served as the Homer Women’s Club when it was located in Old Town to the days it spent as the home of the Homer News.
Getting an older building up to snuff took a lot of work and rehab, Kathy Vogl said.
“So we have spent all winter making these changes and remodeling,” she said. “And it’s beautiful inside. We are really excited to have people come in and see what we’ve done.”
Many businesses and restaurants are currently open only for take out or delivery, due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration allowed many businesses to open back up at 25% capacity starting April 24 with strict health protocols. Some Homer businesses are finding that situation doable, while others are maintaining their business in a more limited capacity with stricter social distancing.
For Little Mermaid, 25% capacity would mean three tables.
“It’s not cost effective,” Vogl said. “But if you have the tables in, you still have to have the staff to service it essentially.”
Another reason the restaurant is sticking to take out service for now is that it just seems a little early to open for dine-in service, Vogl said. She and Evan are watching the pandemic situation unfold along with Dunleavy’s phased plan for reopening the economy.
“It’s the soft opening we weren’t intending,” Vogl said.
Little Mermaid’s opening on Pioneer Avenue had originally been slated for April. When the novel coronavirus situation grew, Vogl said they had to crack on with renovation regardless.
“We went ahead and finished with that, and just have been waiting it out to see,” she said.
A window on the side of the building slides open, and that’s where customers will pick up their orders for minimal contact with staff. Customers will call ahead and pay over the phone, Vogl said.
She said take out service is the plan for a couple weeks, if not longer.
“And we’re in no hurry to push it,” Vogl said. “We want it to be safe before we do that — for our staff, for us and for everyone in the community as well.”
The restaurant has a slightly pared down menu right now, but Vogl said not to worry — all the local favorites are on it.
“It’s things that we know sell,” she said. “It’s the favorites everyone’s been missing.”
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.