By Peg Lopata, Contributing writer
HUDSON – Is it the soft jazz music playing in the background? Maybe it’s the hand-painted floors, bookshelves filled with books, or historical photos of the town? Or is it the customers’ and staffs’ smiles? Diners have found that there’s something very welcoming about Café 641.
In turn, owners Chad and Henny Champeon, who bought the restaurant in 2017, say they’re excited to have found the keys to making a great eating experience.
“It is extremely rewarding to be able to let folks take a break from cooking and treat them to a unique and quality lunch or breakfast in a cozy environment,” Chad said in a recent interview.
Varied menu includes a nod to history
The menu offers everything from sweet pastries to savory crepes, seasonal lobster rolls, Angus burgers, seasonal soups, salads and wraps. There’s also breakfast available all day. Customers can sit at the cafe’s counter, a table or comfy leather chairs.
Giving people lots of choices is one of the keys to running a successful restaurant, Chad noted, saying creativity is another key to survival in this tough business.
In true creative form, just like the historical photos on the walls of Café 641, the restaurant itself has a history.
Turns out that the restaurant’s founder’s wife was a librarian. So, the café was named ‘641’ for the “Food and Drink” category in the Dewey Decimal System.
Today that unique history can be found in the Café 641 menu in the form of the restaurant’s signature breakfast sandwich, “The Dewey.”
Café 641 charts path through pandemic
While many restaurants unfortunately folded during the pandemic, Chad Champeon and his team found a way to pull through.
During the coronavirus lockdown last year, they ran their own “Feed the Heroes” campaign to honor frontline workers. That was thanks to an idea from Nancy Cronin, a friend of Chad’s.
“The way it worked was someone or a group would purchase lunchboxes and we’d make and deliver them to frontline workers on the purchaser’s behalf,” Chad explained. “It was such a pleasure to bring these heroes a lunch. Many were moved to tears at the gesture.”
For Chad, Henny and Café 641, that giving spirit will continue. Every Tuesday during the month of August, health care workers in any department can just bring their ID or badge and they’ll get a free hot or iced coffee.
“We plan to recognize and reward other heroes each month,” Chad said.
As Café 641 has helped others, it’s also had to lean on the community for support of its own endeavors.
“We humbled ourselves and opened a GoFundMe campaign to ask for support,” Chad said.
Between the lunches for front line workers and the GoFundMe campaign, Café 641 stayed afloat through the pandemic’s challenges.
Happy employees elevate service at Café 641
In the past, present and future, a final key to the restaurant’s success is the fact Champeon treats his workers right. He said he feels blessed with the team he has at the restaurant.
“A lot of industries are having a tough time hiring and retaining help, especially the restaurant industry right now,” noted Champeon. “It’s not lost on us that there are many opportunities and choices for workers to go elsewhere. That’s why we believe in above industry average pay for our team and doing our best to cultivate a rewarding and fun atmosphere for all of us to work in.”
With a return to a more normal way of doing business Chad and the whole team held a celebration.
“The first thing we did when we saw that we were over the COVID 19 hurdle–which we almost lost our business to–was celebrate our team and their families by hosting a summer outing at Westford’s Kimball Farm last month,” Chad said.
Café 641 is located at 45 Main St. in Hudson. Learn more at cafe641.com or by calling (978) 562-0641.