And I thought it was just lunch

I’ve been holding off on writing about this place because I want to get a picture, but after three visits to my new favorite lunch place I can’t hold off any more.

David and I found a cafe called MJ’s cafe, featuring fresh semi-organic wraps and sandwiches. We wandered in soon after it opened simply because it is in our neighborhood and we are trying very hard to support local, non-chain businesses. MJ’s, it was immediately apparent, is a family run restaurant. Our first impression was that their concept is good but slightly underdeveloped. You will see what I mean when I post pictures. The food was good. Ironically, the desserts (decidedly NOT healthy) were amazing – home made and delicious. And since they stay open until 9 PM the desserts are a prime candidate for an after dinner splurge: get them and bring it home quick.

Here’s what is interesting, though. We felt immediately as if these people are creating a community in their restaurant. Dad (Syed pronounced Sid) and his two daughters are friendly, warm, and have revealed a tremendous amount about themselves in a short time. Syed is a food chemist who decided to go out on his own. Now he is opening 5 restaurants in a year. Syed has a favorite saying. “See the world as it is.” As a result he and his family have traveled literally all over the world. Syed caught sight of us praying the other day and was encouraging us. “Gratitude is so necessary.” It is a little disconcerting, however, to realize that this sweet family keeps track of our dessert intake (“Try the toffee brownie this time…you’ve had the peanut butter three times now.”) as well as our other dietary preferences. “You really like the pomegranate soda? I’ll look for some other pomegranate things for you.” It takes fortitude to wade into what feels like a new extended family!

David and I were talking after lunch today –there’s no talking during lunch…the family comes to chat since we’ve proven talkative! By being open to a little conversation we’ve learned about a whole new world that we never knew existed. Syed and his family are (we think) Pakistani. They have a great feel for the world. We’ve learned about education, food chemistry (did you know you can get a PhD in chicken muscle?), family business and business in general. Shortly after opening the cafe Syed bought the gym three doors down; I think it was a good combination. Desserts to gym, gym to desserts.

Learning to appreciate the local third places like MJ’s cafe (named for Mom) is a worthwhile effort. In this little corner of South Florida there is very little community spirit. I can’t even find out where my town actually IS, if you know what I mean. So we’ve decided to create our own town, our own place, by stitching together all the odd corners and spots that we enjoy. MJ’s is now one of them.

By the way, did I mention they have free wi-fi?

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.