Located near the intersection of Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard, MunchIt Cafe offers a variety of delicious drinks and snacks in hopes of creating a tight-knit community.
Originally an idea for a food cart featuring crazy hot dogs and sides, MunchIt took a different direction after encountering licensing issues with the type of food that could be offered from a cart.
“MunchIt was meant to be a hot dog cart,” said co-founder Hamza “Henry” Howari. “But the whole point of opening the business was to be able to offer these products to our customers to give them joy.”
Already experienced in cafes, Howari, along with his former colleague and friend Ali Aydi, turned to coffee to please their customers with another product. In line with the cart idea, the two created a small cafe on a trailer and MunchIt Cafe was born.
“We started organizing private festivals and events,” Aydi said. “Then we started seeing people adoring him. [They loved] our drinks, loved the mixes, loved the new drinks.”
Gaining ground, MunchIt eventually parked its cart outside Alnoor Market, located at 5619 Hillsborough St., giving customers a more consistent location and hours.
“We put it [there] for three months,” Howari said. “[We] there were a lot of people. The number of orders we were receiving exceeded what the cart can do. »
Even with long waits due to the cart’s small capacity, customers kept coming for delicious menu items including flavored lattes, Red Bull mixes and other beverages. Always concerned about the customer experience, MunchIt realized that they needed to continue to grow.
“[Customers] were waiting; they didn’t care,” Howari said. “They were waiting 15 minutes, they were waiting 10 minutes, I just didn’t want that. I didn’t want people to come here and have to wait to sip coffee and then enjoy [it]. I want them to be able to come in and sit down and enjoy it.
After looking at different locations on Hillsborough Street, MunchIt decided to expand where they were and set up shop inside Alnoor Market. Having recently completed renovations to a corner of the existing grocery store, MunchIt reopened its cafe on September 14, providing a more inviting space with increased capacity.
“I want a home environment,” Howari said. “I want people to come and sit here for hours. When I built it, the whole base of the company was for the community. »
In fact, it’s a place like this that brought the founders together and inspired MunchIt.
“I would go straight to [my old] coffee and drink my coffee with the community,” Howari said. “We were all friends and I’m still friends with half of them now. My partner is now one of the customers who came to [the cafe]. So that’s what I wanted, that’s why I created MunchIt.
With the majority of their products coming from other small businesses, MunchIt also hopes to support its community beyond serving customers.
“All of our pastries come from small businesses; our coffee beans come from a small roasting company,” Howari said. “I always aim to support small businesses [and] always aim for quality in everything… I know it’s a bit more expensive, but that money will go to someone and motivate them to keep doing their job.
With reasonably priced menu items, MunchIt tries to ensure that customers don’t incur that expense either.
“I don’t care if I take a loss or take less profit. I don’t care. I mean, this business is about building this community,” Howari said.
In addition to regular operations, MunchIt hopes to begin offering events such as movie nights or giveaways sponsored by customer donations. Up-to-date information on these events and more can be found on their Instagram page.
Launched earlier this year as a small, one-person coffee trailer, MunchIt looks set to grow a tight-knit community around quality coffee and snacks. Next time you’re heading west on Western Boulevard or Hillsborough Street, consider coming in for a treat and see how the community grows.