The latest place to get your caffeine fix, Cafe Darak, brings a little fun to the mix with its unusual decor.
How unusual? There’s a red and white VW “bus” parked in one corner. It’s actually a pop-up tent-type structure, but it definitely gets one’s attention. A wicker picnic basket is set near the tent’s door, as though someone was getting ready for lunch. Inside are a low table and two bean bag chairs.
“I wanted a real Volkswagen car to have inside,” said cafe owner Naeun “Crystal” Yun. “But it was really hard to find one without having to redo all the painting and everything.”
Yun said she always wanted to open her own cafe, though she opted to study hospitality at UNLV. She opened Cafe Darak, 8665 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 105, with a year of school still ahead of her.
“I was thinking about what I really wanted to do … and I went to my professor and told him, ‘I don’t want to go to a hotel; I don’t want to work the front desk or concierge,’ ” she said.
Yun said she opted to remain in the hospitality program because “my studies are helping me a lot because I didn’t know anything about the state’s rules and regulations.”
UNLV professors Carl Braunlich and Dina Zemke became Yun’s mentors and helped her through the setup of her cafe. Luckily, the location didn’t require many interior changes as it previously had been a Port of Subs. However, it had been empty and neglected for a while. Yun said her professors helped most with “the construction and how it goes and the contracts. … We had to fix a lot of things in the building.”
Pronounced “Da Rah,” Yun said Darak refers to “Lost Attic.” She said she’d been planning the cafe for two years, looking for the right location.
Yun said she wanted a place “where people come in and hang out, where they talk and have coffee. People can feel at home, like they’re in their home and relaxed. Other coffee shops, they just get coffee and then they leave. I wanted a place where they’d really chill out.”
She said she also wanted to have the place exude a vintage vibe mixed with an industrial look. An old typewriter, a desk and lights help forward that concept. The chairs are all different, ranging from contemporary to an oversized stuffed one.
The eclectic feel stems from one of the owner’s pastimes: Yun grew up collecting things from Japan, Korea and Thailand. As an adult, she checks out antique stores in California and Nevada for items. The roughly 1,000-square-foot space is full of kitschy pieces.
Yun said a lot of the things she has in the cafe are things other people intentionally discarded.
The VW bus tent, for example, was found at a thrift store. Yun said she couldn’t resist it because she loves Volkswagen vehicles, especially the buses.
“Everybody (remarks) about it,” said Dina Kim, a counter clerk at the cafe. “They’re drawn to it.”
Kim added that people will bring a laptop or other device to connect to the Wi-Fi.
Frequent patrons can choose a card and have it stamped each time they visit. No one loses their card because they’re all kept alphabetically on hooks on site.
Menu boards offer a mix of beverages — brewed coffee, Americano, cappuccino, cafe latte, cafe mocha, vanilla latte and caramel macchiato. Other items include smoothies, Sake Rato, hot cocoa and Berryberryade. There also are strawberry and blueberry frappes and Oreo shakes.
Food items are limited and include a hot turkey sandwich, muffins, honey bread, tiramisu and cheesecake.
The cafe’s food is served on miniature trays that, to add a touch of whimsy, include a miniature vase of ivy and different types of toys.
Yun said serving food with the tiny ivy vase and a miniature toy prompted a tactile response in customers.
“I really want people to touch (the things) when they drink coffee,” she said. “They take a picture of them, and they feel like they’re in a different world.”
Yun is looking for a Henderson location to open a second Cafe Darak.
Cafe Darak is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. For more information, call 702-370-4657.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.