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Sweet Science Coffee near Courthouse rebrands as SIMONA Café

The Arlington location of Sweet Science Coffee in Lyon Village rang in the New Year with a new name, SIMONA Café, and more food and drink options.

Despite the new offerings, “the coffee program is still a really good program,” says owner Jad Bouchebel, who remains a partner in the business. Sweet Science continues to operate under the original brand in D.C.’s NoMA neighborhood.

The acclaimed Sweet Science Coffee opened the outpost at 2507 N. Franklin Road, near Courthouse, about two years ago, advertising some “all-day” offerings to differentiate the Arlington offshoot.

But Bouchebel says it took until last spring, with help from his associate Roberto “Tito” Peña, to get more lunch items on the menu and to put to use its ABC license for beer and wine. Last fall, the duo decided to rebrand, redecorate the coffee shop’s spartan interior and expand the menu and hours.

“We wanted to make it more of an all-day concept. That’s the reason we changed the name —  to separate from the D.C. location,” said Bouchebel, an Alexandria resident who named the cafe after his daughter. “We don’t want to confuse people. We offer totally different offerings.”

Bouchebel, still a partner at Sweet Science as well as Clarendon nightlife spot Wilson Hardware, says the cafe never really closed, but SIMONA Café had a soft opening in late December and its grand opening on Friday, Jan. 20.

Now, Peña says, the café’s interior gives people “a cool place to hang out in the afternoon,” and enjoy lunch and dinner options, charcuterie and cheese boards, beer, wine and weekend mimosas.

Like the coffee menu, Peña says the wine list is one that “people can delve into without much knowledge.”

The food menu, meanwhile, keeps the kitchen staff at SIMONA busy.

“We bake our own bread for our breakfast sandwiches,” Bouchebel said. “Everything we do in house: from salsa, to toppings, to bread and to our pastries — we bake them every morning here.”

Peña says the coffee comes from Rare Bird Coffee Roasters in Falls Church, and his baristas aim “to provide really nice coffee that’s approachable.”

“We can get nerdy if people want, but the goal is to meet customers where they’re coming in,” he said.

For Peña and Bouchebel, the expanded hours and menu pay homage to the coffee shop’s history. The space used to be home to Java Shack, a community hub at one point owned by Commonwealth Joe, which closed the location in 2019.

“We still get a lot of clients who’d been coming for 20 years,” Bouchebel said. “Java Shack was a staple — a neighborhood cafe — so instead of just offering half-day hours, we kept it going whole-day for people looking for [that experience].”

Peña says he remembers going to Java Shack in the ’90s as a high school student.

“It was my first favorite coffee shop,” he said. “It’s kind of cool: the original owner, Dale, is now a regular for us. I talk to him every week… We have some regulars who’ve been coming for 20 years.”

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