Neighborhood Eats: Porcelain cafe fosters community through food in Ridgewood, Queens

RIDGEWOOD, Queens (WABC) -- Porcelain got its start as an Austrian café in Ridgewood, Queens, and while coffee is a big part of the experience, food is now a big part of the draw.

"We had this beautiful corner space, we have a lot of very deep sidewalks, we have pivoted a lot, many, many times," owner Mike Stamatelos said.

Those pivots have kept Porcelain from cracking during the coronavirus pandemic and one of the biggest changes for Stamatelos was taking on a partner who is also a chef.

"I was home a lot as we all were and soon started missing cooking," Kate Telfeyan said.

Telfeyan found herself unemployed when the restaurant where she had been working shut down without notice early on in the pandemic.

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She began cooking at home and selling food from her apartment, even delivering it.

"I was riding my bike, I was doing Revel, ZipCar sometimes," Telfeyan said.

That grew into some pop-up experiences and the one at Porcelain turned into something permanent.

"We both live in the neighborhood, we're both invested here and we both had similar perceptions about this industry and what needs to change," Stamatelos said.

Both are committed to paying a living wage, which is why so much of the staff has stayed on through the pandemic.

And then there's the food.

"I was adopted so I have a French-Canadian mother and Armenian father so I have a lot of different influences that inform my cooking and my palate," Telfeyan said.

The most pronounced flavors are Asian.

She makes both a savory and sweet tofu pudding with sultry flavors and layered textures.

Other highlights include fishcake katsu over rice, a butter bean crepe, a crispy lamb sandwich, and the M.E.C. made of mortadella, steamed egg, and cheese, a breakfast sandwich taken to the next level.

"They've really put an effort into getting to know their neighbors, hiring people who live locally...and they provide great coffee and food," one patron said.

All happening on a corner in Ridgewood.

"It's a little small townish which I like being in this bigger community of New York, having this little corner of the world that's very personal," Telfeyan said.

Porcelain is open every day but dinner service is only Wednesday through Sunday and live music is Wednesday nights.

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