Ask The Locals: Sarah & Raphael Perrier

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todd bates
Ask The Locals: Sarah & Raphael Perrier

Seventeen years ago, Kahwa Coffee founders Sarah and Raphael Perrier met in a Philadelphia coffee shop. Raphael was working as a barista, while Sarah, who says she started drinking more coffee just to see him behind the bar, was a customer. When they moved to St. Petersburg, Sarah’s hometown, and launched the wholesale coffee empire that is Kahwa in 2005, the city didn’t really have a java scene, so the Perriers wanted to create a meeting place that mirrored where they used to hang out in the Northeast. The first cafe opened in downtown St. Pete in 2006, and today Kahwa operates eight locations. The newest cafe launched in Westchase at the beginning of September, and two more are planned for Sarasota and St. Pete’s Fourth Street. To compete with Starbucks and the rest, the roastery unleashed its line of single-serve K-cups to the coffee market earlier this year, and recently attempted to enter the realm of retail through a presentation to Winn-Dixie. The couple, who live in St. Pete’s Allendale neighborhood with their two children, believe Kahwa will maintain its local following despite its national ambitions. According to Raphael, “To be successful, you can’t always stay that small little company forever. I really believe you can grow a local company to a national level, and to a size that could be pretty substantial, and still be involved in your community every day.”

Best happy hour haven: CASSIS AMERICAN BRASSERIE. Sarah: “I like Cassis for happy hour because you can get French rosé. That’s the best place. You feel like you’re in the South of France.”
Best reason to call the babysitter: TRYST GASTRO LOUNGE. Sarah: “Tryst is like...” Raphael: “The late-night drinks.” Sarah: “The late-night, you know, pretend like you don’t have kids anymore.”
Best new dinner spot: BRICK & MORTAR. Raphael: “It’s cool. The food is really good.” Sarah: “And the owners are super nice.”
Favorite place to unwind: GRATZZI ITALIAN GRILLE. Raphael: “Love Gratzzi. Usually we go there on our ‘off’ night.”
Closest thing to the Big Apple: STATION HOUSE. Sarah: “We get the craft cocktails.” Raphael: The El Diablo for you, and for me, I’m an Old Fashioned.”
Favorite Kahwa cafe: KAHWA NORTH. Raphael: “The first. Always the first. It’s like the first kid.” Sarah: “My car, I get in it, it just drives to that store.”
Best reason to cross the Howard Frankland: MISE EN PLACE. Sarah: “Classic. Our favorite cuisine is the French-influenced.” Raphael: “Hands down. I think the food is amazing, service is amazing, and great owners.”
Best place to take the kids: BASELINE BISTRO. Raphael: “That’s their favorite by far. It’s in the St. Pete racquet club. Good pizzas, great burgers.”
Favorite community hub: [email protected]. Sarah: “The atmosphere of that place, and the stuff they bring in… it’s just a different, intimate venue.”
Best destination for out-of-towners: THE DALI MUSEUM. Raphael: “I think it’s a must-go for anybody when you come to town. It’s so unique and so rare.”
Favorite way to indulge: EL CAP. Raphael: “We try not to. We’ll gain like 13 pounds.”
Best not-Cronuts: TRYST GASTRO LOUNGE. Sarah: “They’re handmade doughnuts they have for dessert with a glaze on the side. He’s not really a sweets person, but I am. Raphael: “They’re called ‘Fronuts’ ofn the menu. You can’t call them Cronuts. They’re amazing.”
Best wallet-friendly finds: THE SHOP. Sarah: “They always have cute new stuff like dresses, and it’s affordable.”
Best way to work off what you ate in France: PURE BARRE. Sarah: “It’s a new exercise. It’s kind of based on ballet exercises, but it’s not ballet. They have one in Tampa, too.”
Best playgrounds for home cooks: LOCALE MARKET, SATURDAY MORNING MARKET, MAZZARO’S ITALIAN MARKET. Raphael: “For fish, meat. I do great lasagnas. Love to barbecue.”
Tastiest tater tots: ANISE GLOBAL GASTROBAR. Raphael: “Those tots. Oh my gosh.” Sarah: “Yeah, the tots with the truffle oil.” Raphael: “Uggh. So Good. Can you tell we like to eat? That’s what we do.”

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