MJ’s Cafe is moving from White Star Market into the building recently vacated by Tiger Deauxnuts and Barbecue, with plans to open in early September.
Owner Mary-Brennan Faucheux says the move reflects her desire to expand her menu, physical space and operations for a growing customer base, while also allowing MJ’s to return to its roots as a full-size restaurant.
“White Star gave us the opportunity to keep our brand alive, but having your own place is something you always want to go back to,” says Faucheux, who signed a five-year lease on the 2,550-square-foot Government Street space. “Now, we can recreate the environment we had at our first location but on a larger scale.”
Last year, Faucheux moved the eight-year-old cafe—which specializes in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals—into the gourmet food hall after she was unable to renew the lease on MJ’s original Jefferson Highway location.
Broadly, the new digs will allow for a bigger kitchen, making it easier for MJ’s to expand catering operations as well as avoid cross-contaminating vegetarian and vegan meal preparations. Customers will see expanded breakfast options, such as power bowls and smoothies, plus the comeback of some old favorites, like quiche. They’ll notice the return of a vegetarian lunch menu, too, with items featuring egg and cheese.
Moreover, the updated menu will include more plant-based options—such as cauliflower wraps, barbecue chickpea salads and jackfruit gyro—and alcohol. There will also be grab-and-go options, where patrons can either pick up ingredients to bring back home or grab a quick lunch. Long-term, she hopes to offer dinner.
In an effort to give the space a more communal feel, Faucheux is also redesigning the restaurant to feature more seating options—including a bar that wraps around the service area, a long bench along the back wall, five high-top tables and 10 other tables—to hold 60 people. A small retail area will showcase and sell products from local farmers the cafe uses.
Faucheux plans to hire another four or five employees for the restaurant, which is leaving White Star in late August. MJ’s will operate from its new location seven days a week, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.