Tony has been in Brighton his entire life, and is always happy and willing to share stories of his memories as a kid. Seeing the neighborhood change and grow, Tony often recalls the names of businesses and storefronts that once lined the streets of Brighton Center when we start talking about the neighborhood. He has told me stories about the old Egyptian Theater, and has shared in full detail the entire floor plan of how the old YMCA on Washington St. looked. I met Tony at a prior role, and he mentioned how he would grab coffee with the gang at Cafe Mirror every morning. When I told Tony about the Season of Giving, he extended an invitation to grab coffee.
Pictured is the old Egyptian Theater in Brighton Center.
I arrived to Cafe Mirror and introductions were being made right out the gate, Tony was there with Diane, Louis, Dave. The group of them were talking to another gentleman when I arrived, who in the blink of an eye was handing me a cup of coffee, insisted he was covering it and was just as fast on his way out the door. I started off by asking the group why was it they came to coffee every morning? Was it out of routine? Or was it something more? Louis shared that he is often one of the first to arrive at Cafe Mirror, when he walks through their doors at 5am, but enjoys the hours of conversation had each day there with this group. Dave tells me how he has been part of this coffee group for 17 years and how great the staff are at Cafe Mirror. They even do little things like remember their birthdays and throw parties for them. In return, these coffee goers recently hosted a baby shower for one of the women on staff. The more we talked, the group of them agreed that while the location they grab their morning coffee has changed throughout the years, they find comfort in seeing these people everyday. People who remember parts of this neighborhood’s past that are a testament to just how much cities all over have changed in the last 50+ years.
Pictured from left to right (Dave, Louis, Diane, and Tony.)
Malis is one of the many members of this family-owned business who help to operate Cafe Mirror. You will often find Malis is working many roles to keep the cafe organized and moving. She was sitting a few tables over cleaning and sorting silverware when I asked her if this was something she had ever expected to happen, developing a relationship like the one she shares with Tony, Dave, Louis, Diane, and the many other seniors who frequent Cafe Mirror. “I like to help all people, it comes from my heart. If they come in and want something special, but it is not on the menu, we will make it for them.” Malis tells me how she has had issues getting to the cafe for opening from time-to-time, and to help her out Dave will pick her up and bring her to the cafe. It is through acts like this, Malis recognizes just how important those morning coffees are to this group. As I was getting ready to leave, Malis made sure to extend an invitation to their customer appreciation holiday party (Dec. 21st at 5pm) and the gang was insistent that it is always a great time and I should stop by. Getting to see the relationships formed between these neighborhood seniors and this immigrant woman showed me how Cafe Mirror is more than just a diner, but that it is a key local business you can find and build community at. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.
Pictured is Malis behind the counter at Cafe Mirror.