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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Small Business Spotlight: College Hill Café revives old neighborhood favorite

College Hill Café is located diagonal from College Hill Tavern at 501 Cattell Street. (Photo courtesy of Rose DeFranco)

There is a new spot on College Hill serving up sandwiches, fresh coffee and nostalgia. College Hill Café, Forever Jake’s is a cozy restaurant with a simplistic modern look and a wide-ranging menu.

“It’s such a homey feel for those that are away from home,” owner Rose DeFranco said. “It’s all homemade, from-scratch food and it caters to everybody. There’s tacos, there’s burritos, there’s burgers, there’s goat cheese omelets.”

DeFranco, an Easton area native, had been out of the food industry for 15 years when she saw that 501 Cattell St., once home to a restaurant named Jake’s, was available. Jake’s was a neighborhood hotspot and its owner, Jake Miller, is considered a community icon. After decades of business, the restaurant closed its doors in 1996.

“He was well known around … College Hill,” DeFranco said. “There isn’t anybody that doesn’t have a memory of going to Jake’s,” she said. “[Neighborhood kids] would get off the school bus and go in there and get stuff and he’d have it ready for them. He knew them by name.”

DeFranco met Miller when he became the chef at her Northampton St. deli called the Apple Shack. She told him then that she would take back his old restaurant. Almost three decades later, she made good on that promise.

To pay homage to the former owner, DeFranco named her new restaurant “College Hill Café, Forever Jake’s.” Miller, now 90, visits the restaurant weekly.

“People were very happy to see Jake’s name back in there and some of Jake’s stuff back on the menu … everybody wanted to get in there and know if they could see Jake,” she said. “Every day people come in looking for him. It’s actually really cute.”

Prior to College Hill Café opening in July, the space was occupied by Hill’s Kitchen, a breakfast establishment. When DeFranco took over the building, she introduced new menus for both breakfast and lunch. Additionally, she has incorporated some classic meals from Miller’s menu.

DeFranco believes that College Hill Café is a good fit for those craving a homemade meal and a sense of community.

“I converse with a couple of the [local] parents and they said it’s a nice place for [their] kids to go and get something to eat,” DeFranco said. “So I really want it to be a place where people can feel like their kids are going somewhere and getting a homemade meal. It’s not a fast food place, it’s just a nice, cozy, homemade, neighborhood feel.”

For Lafayette students, DeFranco recommends The Big Burrito or the grilled cheese.

“It’s probably one of the biggest burritos anybody’s ever seen … the grilled cheeses are phenomenal,” DeFranco said. “They’re done on a big brioche bread. Anybody that loves grilled cheese will love them.”

Additionally, College Hill Café has a full ice cream bar and a variety of gluten-free desserts, breads and bagels. 

Ultimately, DeFranco hopes that patrons leave feeling like part of the neighborhood, just as Jake’s did for the community.

“You come in as a guest, you leave family,” DeFranco said. 

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About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

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