Dora Guo

Author’s Note: In our series “Take Out,” we will spotlight Black-owned restaurants in New Haven. Through this, we hope to introduce Yale students to new eats and experiences across Elm City and support local Black-owned businesses.

The bright light hits every wall inside B-Natural Kitchen.

Designed by a local firm Atelier Cho Thompson, the interior architecture and style emphasizes the restaurant’s vision: all-natural and sustainable. We were taken aback from the very first step we took inside the restaurant, stunned by the ambience. The light pink and earthy green color palette accentuates a boldness that can also be found in their food.

Nebyat Shewaye and his wife have been operating restaurants together in New Haven for almost 17 years. He first began his journey by working at local hotspot, Atticus. This inspired his passion for cafes and motivated him to open his first organic coffee and tea shop, Woodland. Then, they moved to Chapel Street to open B-Natural Cafe. In January 2020, they opened B-Natural Kitchen to expand on their cafe model and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. Shewaye noted the necessity of adapting to the local environment since the market of coffee shops in New Haven is highly saturated. B-Natural Kitchen offers a unique haven of sustainable, healthy food options nestled on College Street, right around the corner from Claire’s. 

Shewaye says “sell[ing] what you eat” is the key to running a successful and rewarding restaurant. The foods that he and his wife serve are the foods that they love and actually eat themselves. This personal approach is also a testament to their closeness with the city. Not only have they run their businesses in New Haven, but they have raised their kids here and want to serve the community they know so well.

B-Natural Kitchen had opened up in January — right before the pandemic broke out in the United States, transforming the restaurant and hospitality industry. They primarily operate on an online ordering and takeout model, but B-Natural still has some limited indoor seating capacity, adhering to health and safety guidelines. You will definitely want to check out the interior design and seating for yourselves.

Adjusting to the pandemic, the owner installed a contactless pod machine, provided by Minnow. When our food was ready, a text was sent to our phones. The message included a link that led to a web browser, prompting you to scan your QR code to pick up your order in a secure, sanitary cubby. Shewaye said that both Yale and New Haven local officials have been supportive and understanding of the challenges of operating a Black-owned, small business, especially during a pandemic.

Their mission of sustainability encourages zero waste — you won’t find a single trash can at B-Natural. Instead, the restaurant has a compost and recycling bin. Their ingredients also illustrate this commitment to sustainability, with extensive organic, vegan and vegetarian dishes.

The menu has ample options for wraps, sandwiches, customizable salads and bowls. For beverages, they serve smoothies, craft sodas made in-store with fresh fruit and even craft beer. We ordered the Spicy Thai Bowl, Choco Banana Smoothie and the Buffalo Chicken Panini.

The flavors in the Spicy Thai Bowl hit all the right notes. From the first bite, you could taste the freshness in the ingredients and could hear the crunch in every bite. The spice level did not overpower the savory peanut sauce, allowing a combination of flavors to swirl in your mouth. The smoothie blended mixed berries, bananas, almond milk and an espresso shot. Together, it created a nice tingly sensation on the tongue. The buffalo chicken sandwich was hearty yet light. Served with a side of tortilla chips, the varying textures and strong flavors were extremely satisfying.

Located at 260 College St., B-Natural Kitchen is extremely close to main campus. Enjoy an organic, comforting meal and the refreshing aura of the restaurant’s interior.

Mary Chen and Rachel Chang | mary.chen@yale.edu and rachel.chang@yale.edu