Step foot into Persnickety Crane Café and get ready to be transported to a happy place.
A place where there is balance in the world. People are smiling, kids are playing, adults are talking, the music is perfect and the coffee smells and tastes divine.
Yes, this place really exists. The café opened in December and was the brainchild of Cecilia Corujo, 44, who worked for the Department of Defense in intelligence analysis.
“This is definitely a 180-degree pivot,” she says.
What Corujo, a mother of four, has set out to create is a place where people want to come to connect with others. She wants it to be “transformational” for families. The café has a kids’ area in the back. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. And there is always coffee.
“I want people to be able to have date nights and not break the bank,” she says. “People from all walks of life, ages and focuses come here. Also, I wanted it to be a place where organic life was present.”
Corujo has achieved exactly that. She is focused, mission-driven and business minded. She knows what she wants and is working hard to mold the café into exactly that. Her long-term goal is to launch 20 businesses and eventually open a home for orphan children.
Corujo takes great pride in looking around and seeing all the different people in the café. She is extremely pleased that it has become a place for customers to find peace, good food and civility.
“I love seeing people connecting while enjoying food and drink,” she says. “It’s like an oasis in our day. It is intended to be a place where you can feel a sense of peace, with refreshment for the spirit.”
The café offers items that range in price from low to moderate, so everyone can find something, says Corujo. Not only does the café offer food and drink, it also is a place that has a full calendar of events. There are family game nights, crafting events, live music on Friday nights, coffee tastings, Sunday tea and even TED (technology, entertainment and design) talks. Corujo’s goal is for the café to bring people together. In addition, the café donates to local charities.
“I want cross-cultural collaboration,” Corujo says. “There is something for every age. You can come here with the whole family and have an experience everyone enjoys. I hope people make memories here. It’s a great way for people’s lives to intersect.”
The café is located in York County off of Route 17. Corujo lives in Poquoson, so she wanted a location nearby. It also is near the highway and on a very busy thoroughfare, with “46,000 cars driving by on Victory Boulevard daily,” she says. “We had to be somewhere people could see us and commit to come. As a new business, I knew we had to be very strategic and smart about where we opened.”
Corujo has quickly learned that running a café is not easy. In fact, she has worked 90-hour work weeks. “I have found it to be paradoxically the hardest and most rewarding thing I have done,” she says. “It forces you to bring your A-game.”
When Corujo opened, she had no intention of serving food. She quickly changed course and integrated good eats into the café’s offerings. “The purpose was coffee,” she says. “If you make good coffee, they will come.”
Her son, Elijah, is a coffee connoisseur, and introduced Corujo to the third-wave coffee movement, which is all about quality craft coffee. “Sixteen steps have to happen to give you an amazing cup of coffee,” she says. “It’s about creating a high level of quality all the way through, from bean to cup.” The café’s baristas complete two weeks of training.
Corujo eventually added food that includes acai bowls, sandwiches, charcuterie platters, salads and juices of the day. There is even a seasonal drink; recently it was a blueberry pancake latte.
So, what’s its name all about? Well, Corujo wanted to include a crane because they are “beautiful and graceful,” and kids love animals, especially when they are personified like the bow tie and hat wearing bird in the logo. And the persnickety part comes from the fact that Corujo is a self-described persnickety person and knows that type well.
“You can be a persnickety customer and come here to have your expectations met,” she says with a smile. “We want to be exceptional.”
TO THE POINT:
Persnickety Crane Café
Address: 209 Village Ave., Ste. C, Yorktown, VA
Owner: Cecilia Corujo