Local Eats

Instagram-Worthy Brunch Takes Off: Sabrina’s Café is Now Open at PHL Airport

Sabrinas Local Eats

Q&A with Robert De Abreu, Owner of Sabrina’s Café, and Hakan Ilhan, Owner of Airport Dining and Operator of Sabrina’s Café at PHL.

The wait is finally over! PHL passengers will be pleased to know that Sabrina’s Café has officially opened in Terminal C, where the beloved brunch boutique is already whipping up its famous French toast for travelers, with that same cozy, eclectic atmosphere that encapsulates the Sabrina’s experience Philly knows and loves.

Back in 2001, near Philly’s Italian Market, Sabrina’s Café co-founders Raquel and Robert De Abreu had a delicious idea to create a restaurant that feels AND tastes like home, with a menu driven by classic comfort foods but with a tasty, creative spin.

Named after their daughter, this warm and charming dinette became a neighborhood favorite in no time, later growing to include five successful locations across the region.

In making its PHL debut, Sabrina’s has partnered with a seasoned airport restaurant operator—none other than veteran restauranteur Hakan Ilhan, who also operates a number of PHL’s thriving dining outlets, including Bud & Marilyn’s and Good Luck Pizza Co.

So, what can hungry passengers expect from Sabrina’s Café at PHL? From decadent cannoli French toast to zesty Santa Fe turkey burgers, every Sabrina’s menu item is a labor of love, bursting with flavor, and enjoyed amongst the warm and calming ambiance of an establishment that truly feels like home.

Whether you’re craving a hearty bowl of teriyaki salmon or a veggie Philly cheesesteak, Sabrina’s has got you covered. Offering a tasteful array of soups and salads, there’s a dish for every occasion at this endearing airside eatery, and even an option to ‘build your own burger’ for those feeling creative and adventurous.

Sabrinas Cafe

Get the inside scoop below on all the makings of Sabrina’s Café in this exclusive Q&A with Robert De Abreu and Hakan Ilhan.

Q: What was the initial idea behind the restaurant, Sabrina’s Café? How has it changed and evolved over time?

ROBERT: Our concept has been changing because, when we first opened in the Italian Market, we took over a space from an existing location that would do just breakfast and lunch. Then we added dinner. So, we just expended on it, and eventually, our breakfast and lunch became available all day, keeping the vegetarian theme as part of the menu from the beginning. Being in the Italian Market, our menu was designed around what was available around 9th Street. Our menu has changed a little bit, but it is still chef-driven, inspiring, and innovative, and the people are still our number-one focus. We’re a family-run business, so having a good workplace culture is one of our core values.

Q: What helped to prepare the Sabrina’s team for this exciting new PHL venture?

HAKAN: We have been able to see the strength of the streetside business and tailor it for the airport environment. The experience I had between both led to creating the design that we did, especially with the large bar. We had a big emphasis on the training, and our team did eight weeks at the streetside locations to immerse themselves into the Sabrina’s culture. We found it very important to take those skills and implement that at the airport. The training was even more important due to the diversity of the Sabrina’s menu.

Q: What interested you about Sabrina’s Café that made you want to bring it to PHL?

HAKAN: The fact that it was already a well-established, liked, and anchored concept within the city. Also, the potential familiarity with the passengers that fly through was a big draw towards the brand. The offerings were a lot different and would be an addition to the airport dining scene, especially with their soul food menu options. We already have received a lot of comments about that from employees and how we have filled that void.

Q: What’s different about Sabrina’s Café at PHL that’s different from its streetside restaurants?

HAKAN: The main difference would be that we have a bigger bar-food footprint at PHL than other Sabrina’s locations. The hours of operation are a little different too; Sabrina’s is not open late at night, streetside.

ROBERT: The vibe is different since you’re able to look out the window and see the airplanes. The airport location is a bit larger than our typical streetside spots. Hakan did a great job in pulling together the colors and sticking to the Sabrina’s brand. It is a bigger bar and a smaller menu, as we can’t offer everything. All of the favorites are on the menu, and with the same level of quality of food and service.

Q: What can guests expect when they walk in Sabrina’s Café at PHL?

ROBERT: A place that feels like home; welcoming and genuine. A place where you’re going to create relationships with the team and you feel special. We have good food catered to your needs and something for everybody. It is a place that you’ll feel proud to recommend to somebody. You can expect food that is consistent and just a little different, with a twist, compared to other places and, of course—top-notch service from our team.