Walnut Street Cafe Is Back, Reimagined For a Strange New World

Owner Branden McRill added a more affordable menu and a new outdoor market to his University City restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Walnut Street Cafe

On Friday, June 19th, Walnut Street Cafe will reopen for outdoor dining with an all-new menu and the newly created Walnut Street Market, an open-air market that will sell to-go items like salads, sandwiches, soups and pizza.

Both will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. outside Walnut Street Cafe’s location at 2929 Walnut Street. The market menu (see below) is all quick-service grab-and-go items that can be picked up or eaten at one of the outdoor tables that have been set up under the building’s wide awning. Items on the cafe menu can be ordered for outdoor dining or to go. The market will also stock pantry items like jam and honey, as well as fresh flowers.

The newly reimagined cafe menu (see below) is focused on comforting, familiar dishes at a price point that is 30 to 40 percent less than the restaurant’s previous prices. Reservations will be available for guests dining at Walnut Street Cafe, but some tables will be reserved for walk-ups and people grabbing food from the Market.

“We’ve been thinking about how to adapt the business to COVID-19 from the very beginning of the shutdown,” said Branden McRill, founder and managing partner at Warren HQ, the hospitality group that runs Walnut Street Cafe, The Post and Sunset Social. “The menu changes and creating the market are all about making people really comfortable, and letting them create the experience they want to have, rather than us trying to push something on them.”

Following safety rules, staff will be masked and guests will be required to wear masks whenever they’re not seated. Food preparation and all operations for Walnut Street Cafe and Market, as well as for The Post and Sunset Social have been moved to The Post’s kitchens nearby, which has the most space and airflow. McRill and his team have opened the kitchen and storage spaces at Walnut Street Cafe to Off Their Plate, a nonprofit organization that is providing meals for food insecure healthcare workers.