Upham's Corner Online

Ma & Pa's Cafe - In the Mood & Cooking with Love

Posted: August 19, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Ma & Pa's Cafe
211 Blue Hill Ave
Roxbury, MA

Madeline Colon is the Manager, and Eddie Nunez the owner, of one of the newest restaurants on the Dorchester/Roxbury line - Ma & Pa's Cafe.  It opened for business as a labor of love and it continues that way today.

Maddy and Eddie are a team.  They live in the building where the restaurant is located - 211 Blue Hill Ave.  They love the neighborhood and their customers, and they love serving delicious food.

Last year in 2010, Eddie had a crazy idea - "Let's do something with the space.  Let's open a restaurant." And Madie said:  "Hey, why not!"  Since then, the restaurant has grown in leaps and bounds. 

Today they are reaching out to the community to let everyone know that it's a great place to find great food at reasonable prices.  Touch 106 FM is helping to get out the word and recently, they spearheaded a hugely successful Community Cookout in Winthrop Park on August 22, 2011.

Hard work?  You bet!  The restaurant is open seven days a week. Hours:  M-W 8am to 3pm.  Th-F 8am - 6pm, Sat 9-3 and Sun 8-12 noon.

Ma & Pa's cafe Ma & Pa's cafe

There's more than food and cooking in the air.  This couple brings a creative tenacity to their endeavors.  "We actually opened as a gift shop last August [2010].  We needed to raise money for the restaurant.  We did gift baskets for any occasion.  When it was Christmas, we did Christmas baskets.  When it was Valentine's Day, we did Valentine baskets.  We would do food baskets, flower baskets, balloons, cups.  We created the baskets as we went along.  Coffee baskets, for him or her.  It was pretty successful.  That gave us enough money to convert to a restaurant."

Getting the right permits in place wasn't easy.  They were shut down for three months and that set the business back "big time."  But persistence pays off and the restaurant opened for business in April 2011.

"The name?  How'd we pick that?  Well, that's what we call Eddie's parents.  We call them Ma & Pa.  So Eddie said 'Why not name it after my parents?' and that sounded good to me.

UC News:  What gives you the greatest pleasure - preparing good food, serving the customers or seeing your business grow?

Maddy:  All of the above.  We all cook with love. It means being in the mood.  I got that from my mom.  She loves to cook and has been cooking her whole life. So walking into a kitchen makes you feel great.  You know you can create something that is going to be tasty and nutritious. 

Ma & Pa's cafe Ma & Pa's cafe

When you enter the restaurant, it feels like home - tables, bar stools, art on the wall and a couch for "easy eating."  Eddie's sister decorated the restaurant.  She wanted to bring out colors and make the inside of the restaurant feel like home.

Maddy:  Tell you something funny.  That couch is so comfortable.  Customers are welcome to sit on the couch and eat.  People sometimes finish eating and just want to relax and they fall asleep.  Do we wake them up?  Nah.  Thye generally only sleep for a few minutes.  They wake up refreshed and satisfied.

Maddy says that she and Eddie are both good cooks.  Eddie is really good at creating dishes and she likes to specialize in seasoning her food.  It's really important to think creatively.  How can you make a plate of food not only taste good but look appealing?

They always ask their customers for feedback.  "Yeah, it was awesome.  It was good.  We really like this sandwich.  When are you going to invent more sandwiches?" If someone didn't like the food, they ask what about the food could they change.  They are open to new ideas.  In fact, "Some of the items on our menu came directly from our customers."

Maddy and Eddie believe in building strong relationships with the community - reaching out and getting to know people personally.  Sophia Rice, for example, was one of their customers and that's how they came to do catering for the Winthrop School.  It was Eddie's idea to do a back-to-school celebration event as a way to support the community and to get known.

UC News:  Let's assume that you are adding value to this neighborhood.  If you weren't, you wouldn't have any customers.  How do you see yourself making a contribution to this community?  Why should we come to this restaurant?

Maddy:  We are a very family oriented restaurant.  Everybody is welcome here.  We don't say no to anybody, even if people don't have anything.  We give them food anyway.  Last Thanksgiving we were giving away Turkey subs and cranberry juice.  You know how difficult times are.  We don't say no.  We like to give.

Plans for the future?  They'd like to expand and offer more seating - in front and out back.  

Ma & Pa's Cafe is well worth the visit.  Great food, comfortable environment and great people. 

Ma & Pa's cafe Ma & Pa's cafe
Ma & Pa's cafe Ma & Pa's cafe

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