Following a few days of soft opening, Seva Cafe officially opened its doors on Thursday morning at 2016 Mount Vernon Ave.
The new, spacious cafe offers salads, smoothies, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt and tea as well as hot pour-overs and cold-brewed coffee from M.E. Swing’s.
“It’s a Sanskrit word that means ‘service,’” said owner Dan Bender of the eatery’s name. “We just want to be responsible and proactive in every area of the business. … All our food is sourced in a responsible way, making it easier to make choices you feel good about.”
Like nearby hangout St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, the cafe has no on-site cooking. The building is not outfitted with a hood or other cooking equipment.
The café’s menu is completely organic, simple and inexpensive—something Bender hopes will keep the service quick, easy and fast. Everything is served in to-go containers, whether customers decide to sit down in a spacious seating area or head down the Avenue.
And while salads and smoothies sound like lite fare, Bender says the offerings are more than filling.
“Personally, I am an eater,” he said. “I can eat a whole pizza. But some of the salads [on the menu] I couldn’t finish.”
He has plans to add a few sushi rolls and soups to the menu at a later date.
A father of three, Bender said he hopes Seva Café will be a family-friendly place. The menu offers a “kids sampler” containing seasonal chopped fruits and veggies. An enclosed room in the rear of the café is set aside for parents with kids.
Leather sofas sit against the walls of the family room, with play items in a corner and colorful stickers depicting animals and a map of the United States adorning the wall.
“It’s supposed to be a place for parents like me,” Bender said. “And there’s a full door so people in the rest of the café aren’t disturbed.”
Bender understands his business is somewhat unique, relying on simple, healthy items that don’t require much preparation in the kitchen.
“It’s kind of hard to nail down what we are,” he said. “There are not a lot of places like this. … But if you identify what people want, you can’t go wrong.”
“The customers at those places are very conscious,” Bender said. “You can’t find a more conscious place than Del Ray.”
Seva Café will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. the remainder of the week. Bender said the café will extend its hours to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. next week.
The Mount Vernon Avenue space became available when Mind and Media moved to Old Town in June.