The intention all along was to first open the new Billy's Downtown Diner in Easton and then open a new concept eatery in Allentown.
But circumstances that restauranteur Billy Kounoupis said were beyond his control mean the Allentown spot will start serving food at least a month sooner than the Easton spot.
Kounoupis on Tuesday said Yana's Cafe is set to open for business in the first week of April. The cafe is next door to Billy's Downtown Diner on Hamilton Street in Allentown and represents a different approach than what Billy's customers have come to expect.
Unlike the Allentown diner and the original one on East Broad Street in Bethlehem, Yana's Cafe won't be serving Billy's staples like specialty burgers and omelets.
The focus will be more sweet than savory with Leige waffles, which are thicker than those most Americans are accustomed to eating, as the centerpiece, Kounoupis said.
Think a Nutella-topped waffle with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. There will still be some savory options such as a Monte Cristo waffle sandwich with slow-roasted turkey. The cafe will also offer nitro coffee and other specialty drinks.
"This is completely different from Billy's," he said. "What this place will have, Billy's will not have."
Kounoupis said Yana's Cafe is the first eatery opening under a new division formed about 18 months ago called Boutique Diners. The concept is smaller spaces, limited menus and quicker service.
Top-rated restaurant in 30 Lehigh Valley towns
Yana's Cafe will have 65-70 seats including outdoor seating and is about 700 square feet compared to the neighboring diner's 11,000 square feet. Kounoupis already owned the property so it made sense to launch Boutique Diners first business there, but there are plans to eventually expand into other markets.
"We'll see where it goes," he said. "Our No. 1 priority is to get Easton open."
The opening of Billy's Downtown Diner in Easton has seemingly been in perpetual delay. Kounoupis unveiled plans for the diner in April 2015, but labor laws and construction costs have hampered progress at the site fronting city hall on South Third Street.
Kounoupis is leasing from the city, which is responsible for outfitting the site before turning over the keys to its tenant. In December, Kounoupis and Mayor Sal Panto Jr. both expressed their commitment to the project and set a new tentative opening date for this Mother's Day.
"We're ready to go on our side," Kounoupis said. "We have our contractors ready to go. We have our menus, our computer system ... we made a substantial investment up front."
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