Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Aleppo Palace in Cambridge’s Central Square has approvals to become the Chateau Blanc Cafe. (Photo: Marc Levy)

A little Central Square eatery famous for its late-night Middle Eastern food as well as its distinctive architecture is becoming a cafe serving ice cream and coffee.

The new Chateau Blanc Cafe will keep its late-night hours, though, staying open from 7 to 3 a.m. daily, according to an approval Thursday by Cambridge’s License Commission.

The cafe is expected to open in July, maybe around July 4, owner Mohammed Seffo said in a call after the meeting.

Chateau Blanc Cafe replaces Aleppo Palace at 25 Central Square, a 420-square-foot white structure shaped like a castle that fits only as many as 16 people. (Before March 2019, it was Moody’s Falafel Palace.) Seffo, owner since 2003, decided to go a different direction after growing dispirited from Covid pandemic supply-chain issues that threatened the quality of ingredients and raised prices.

“Everything was just going downhill – I couldn’t find help, can’t do this, can’t do that. And I’m not a quitter. So I said hey, what can I do, how can I make this a good, viable place for the square? Searching for new ideas, I came across ice cream,” Seffo said.

Changes to late-night was another factor in the decision. At one time, “I was the only one who was open until late, and there was no delivery – people wanted to come to Central Square because I was the only one serving the community,” Seffo said. Then came delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. “All that tech has taken away the vibe, that excitement that ‘Hey, we’re going to eat in Central Square after we party.’”

The opening of Tasty Burger just a couple of blocks away with a 2 a.m. closing was another incentive to find something new to offer, Seffo said, “So I decided to go to ice cream and coffee and see what the community will think about it.”

The ice cream is from a New England farm with its own cows, said Seffo, who did not want to reveal more. There’s celebrated ice cream at Toscanini’s in nearby Lafayette Square, but its Main Street shop is open only until 11 p.m. on weekends.

The License Commission approved two patio tables as well, for four seats total that add to the current 12-person occupancy inside the little castle.