An upcoming River North cafe specializes in a very unique combo that Chicagoans have never seen. When it hopefully opens in mid- to late-April, Moti Cafe will serve bite-sized pancakes topped with items like strawberries and Nutella. Owner Jay Patel sees the snacks as street food, good to eat on the go. Moti will also serve an array of Indian food including baked samosas, and Mumbai sandwiches (the spicy griddled sandwich that Moti will serve with ham and cheese).
Patel’s team has taken over a former liquor store at 70 W. Huron Street. They’re building out a 1,000-square-foot space that will have about 12 seats. Patel’s grandmother raised him in India while his parents established themselves in America. He later moved to the states as a young child. Patel’s grandmother inspired the name as moti (which means pearl) was Patel’s nickname for her. She died in 2011, and Patel said he’s always wanted to open a restaurant in her honor. Moti Cafe won’t be his first restaurant. He also runs a Naperville location of the soft pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s.
The cafe will also specialize in tea. Patel’s working on his own chai blend and hopes to give downtown Chicago a serious place for tea. Fans of turmeric-laced golden lattes will also be in luck. He’ll even serve boba teas to provide more Asian representation. Moti will brew Rishi Tea and pour Intelligentsia coffees. Patel hopes to open more locations if River North takes off. He’s looking on the North and South sides.
The silver dollar-size pancakes allow Patel to enjoy them in smaller portions. Full-sized pancakes were sometimes too filling for him. Moti will also have gluten-free versions, and the pancakes can be stuffed in a waffle cone laced with fruit and whipped cream. It will also have savory options, as Patel described a pancake with bacon and cheddar. If sugar from whipped cream is too much, Patel is experimenting with a healthier version with protein powder, as he hopes to attract customers with memberships at nearby gyms. Stay tuned for an opening date as April approaches.