NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Sunrise Cafe is now fully back open. It’s a free spot where the homeless and hungry can sit down for breakfast. Things had to change a lot during the pandemic, but Sunrise is now shining brightly once again.

Breakfast is served at the Sunrise Cafe, and we do mean served.

“We really didn’t want it to be a soup kitchen where they were going from place to place asking,” explained Sunrise Vice-Chair Kelli Ray Gibson. “We wanted them to be served and to really honor the idea of service.”

So, folks walk into this church basement and place their orders from the menu. The food is delivered to their tables. It’s not always New Haven’s mayor delivering it like he was Wednesday. More often it’s a volunteer like Paul Sutphin.

“I come in at 3:00 in the morning, set up all the tables, mop the floor, make sure the place is sterilized, keep this place running,” Sutphin said.

Of course, just like every other cafe out there, Sunrise had to deal with something a couple of years ago.

When the pandemic hit, they could not serve all these folks indoors, so they had to move things outside. it was more of a sidewalk cafe for a while.

“It was great because we were not sure at first how our guests would take it, but they said, ‘We love these tables. Now people won’t know that we’re homeless,'” Gibson said.

Now, the cafe is celebrating its grand indoor re-opening. That is the reason today’s breakfast came with a side of live music and jugglers. That’s also what brought Mayor Justin Elicker (D – New Haven) to Sunrise. He says the city uses the popularity of the cafe to reach out to those without homes and enough food.

“It also allows for us to offer more services,” Elicker said. “So, there’s a bunch of different social service organizations that come regularly, if people need that support.”

Mostly what draws folks to sunrise is the fact that it just feels like a normal place to grab breakfast.

“There’s a lot of sociable people, and there’s a lot of people helping people, you know what I mean?” said Pellegrino Mastrione as he ate his breakfast. “It’s a good place. Good place.”

It is now once again a good indoor place.