PAGU is making strides toward owner Tracy Chang’s dream of a multi-faceted restaurant for community gathering with the addition of a cafe menu and a weekly wine bar.
The Japanese tapas restaurant came to Central Square in January and has been unrolling its offerings in the months since. First it offered dinner, then two months ago came lunch. At 8 a.m. Monday, PAGU began serving cafe-style breakfast.
Chang has traveled extensively, from Japan to France and Spain to within the United States. In her travels, she felt the most drawn to restaurants that adopted multiple formats. Cambridge was missing that type of cafe-by-day, wine bar-by-night space, she says.
She hopes PAGU can appeal to people from all walks of life and income levels with its various offerings, she says. While the dinner prices tend to land in the mid-teens, all breakfast offerings are $8 or less.
Chang envisions PAGU’s cafe as a place where people can regularly spend significant chunks of time, whether doing work on their laptops or spending time with each other.
“We wanted lunch and breakfast to be something for the community that would serve as a meeting place for all kinds of folks—that it didn’t matter, say, what their income was or their status. If they’re a student or a professor or an artist or an entrepreneur, they can all find something that they like here and that they can afford here,” she says.
The cafe menu, like much of Chang’s cooking, is inspired by nostalgia. The pastry offerings remind her of the time she spent in Paris. The pork congee—served bottomless and starting at $6–she says harkens to her childhood, much of which she spent in her grandmother’s Japanese restaurant.
“They’re things that have a time and place,” Chang says. “For instance, congee is something that I grew up eating—I ate it when I was sick, I ate when it was winter and I was cold. It’s something that’s pretty quick, and definitely very soulful and satisfying and homey. I always think of the restaurant as an extension of my living room.”
Other breakfast options include breakfast choux and granola parfait. Coffee, tea, and specialty juices (cucumber/apple/celery juice and orange/carrot/ginger juice) are also available.
PAGU is also launching a wine bar this week. The Spanish-inspired wine bar will pop up in the restaurant’s front section every Thursday night.