Arabica Lounge is a fantastic coffee shop located on Capitol Hill. I have been frequenting it a lot lately and there are always stylish folk to photograph not to mention the food and art inside is amazing. The owner, Jojo Corväiá graciously welcomed me into his doors and told me a bit about the cafe, secret society, art, and music.
Where are you originally from?
Venezuela where I was born into a French/Italian family.
What languages do you speak?
English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Do you have a daily mantra?
I work very hard and this cafe keeps me happy. I get gratification from the people I meet everyday. I make friends and people love what I have done.
How did you learn to cook and what inspires your cooking?
I grew up very lucky. My Dad's family was Italian, Lebanese, and French. My Aunt, Violet, was so serious in the kitchen. She taught me everything I know. She even had pigeons flown from Egypt. All of her food was always excellent. My family's home had a garden with vegetables, fruit trees, and hens. I even had a cow and I use to make cheese for myself.
What's your favorite recipe?
Thick yogurt with olive oil, mint, and sea salt.
Favorite summer recipe?
Watermelon & feta salad.
I heard you'll be doing dinner events at Arabica. Can you tell me a little bit about this?
Once a month I host a gathering called Arabica Secret Society. You can buy tickets on facebook if you're friends with us and there is usually around 25 people. It's a themed event and I invite a guest chef to cook and make a beautiful/intimate dinner. It lasts about 5-6 hours. We can dance and have cocktails. The next one will not be in Arabica but a forest. Whoever is invited will get a map to the destination. It will be a luscious evening with candles, wine, and champagne.
Do you curate the shop? What inspires your art & objects?
Yes, everything in the shop are my personal belongings and aesthetic. They're all from my home. Nothing in particular inspires me it's just the way I see things.
Where are some of the objects from?
All over. One of the vases is from a cemetery in Caracas, Venezuela. I found a globe on the street and all the furniture is my own.
What's your most valuable possession?
My dogs. My scottie Khala and my fox terrier Domenico. I love my dogs so much.
What's on your personal soundtrack?
A lot of music from the 14th century, middle eastern music, and Nicolas Jaar.
What's your vice?
bitter orange marmalade and dark chocolate.
If you could be anywhere, where would you be?
Right here. I love my cafe. My next vacation destination is Egypt.