Waffle shop to morph into Ethiopian restaurant

New owners of The 206 plan to transition from cafe to restaurant

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's been less than a year since The 206 made the leap from a food truck selling waffles and coffee to brick-and-mortar storefront.

But the business, located at 818 S. Oak Park Ave., has a new owner as of Feb. 1 and will gradually move in a different direction.

Think Ethiopia.

Michael Kumela, the new co-owner of The 206, said he and his wife, Kalkidan Tesfaye, have purchased the business and will continue serving hot coffee and waffles for now, but the Ethiopian couple aims to eventually add their traditional cuisine. 

Kumela said Tesfaye, who owned and operated an Ethiopian restaurant in Oakland, California for 11 years, is "a great baker, so we're in the process of bringing in a stove." He said baking at the premises would allow her to begin offering homemade scones, banana bread and Ethiopian bread.

"The short-term plan is expanding the menu and also adding a little bit of a twist to it with our culture," he said.

Owner Valentino Ganacias could not immediately be reached for comment on why the café was sold.

Kumela said he and Tesfaye are currently working with the village of Oak Park to change the sign for the business — the new name is going to be Addis Café, which translates to the word "New" in Ethiopian.

"The reason we called it that is the capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa, which means 'new flower,'" he said, noting that both he and his wife were born in the Ethiopian capital.

Kumela said it probably will be a couple of years before they make the switch to a full-on Ethiopian restaurant. He said they're waiting for their kids, ages 3 and 4, to get a little older before they commit more time to the restaurant concept.

"That's kind of our dream, and we really think we can make it a place not just for people in Oak Park but in surrounding towns," he said. 

"We go up north to all these Ethiopian restaurants and meet people who have traveled from Naperville and Elmhurst. We would like those people to come to Oak Park and not go all the way out to the Edgewater and Rogers Park area."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Lisa Pintado-Vertner from Oak park  

Posted: July 7th, 2016 10:18 AM

I just moved from Oakland to Oak Park and miss the amazing Ethopian restaurants. Can't wait to get my hands on some good injera!!!

Mary Anne Mohanraj from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2016 8:54 PM

Thrilled -- love Ethiopian Diamond in the city, would be terrific to have great Ethiopian closer. If you start selling injera, I'll happily buy some regularly to take home until you transition to a full restaurant! Addicted!

Leila Massouh from Oak park  

Posted: February 10th, 2016 2:52 PM

We love Ethiopian! Looking forward to not having to go to Edgewater to eat one of my favorite cuisines!

Withman Haro from Oak Park  

Posted: February 10th, 2016 9:55 AM

How sad that the 206 waffle shop is closing, but awesome to get Ethiopian in our own back yard! Hope the food truck will still be around.

Carolyn Cullen  

Posted: February 10th, 2016 8:29 AM

Wonderful news! We'll be happy to eat their baked goods to support them until they can add more delicious food. Someday, honey wine like at Mama Desta's would be awesome :)

Libbey Paul from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2016 8:18 PM

Congrats -- looks like this community is ready for some Ethiopian food!

Nancy Giangrasse  

Posted: February 9th, 2016 5:00 PM

We couldn't be more excited!!! And I'm sure we're not the only ones. Very much looking forward to the transition ... and will take that injera anytime you're ready to make it! :)

Lori Coughran from Oak Park  

Posted: February 9th, 2016 4:46 PM

This is most welcome news as we love Ethiopian food, but as the proprietors state, find it very inconvenient to travel to Edgewater or Evanston from our home here in OP. Can you open tomorrow?

Sally Laurent-Muehleisen  

Posted: February 9th, 2016 4:25 PM

I can't wait! This is hands-down my favorite type of cuisine and now I won't have to go into the city anymore!

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