It’s Wednesday morning at The Rack, the coffee house and eatery on Springfield Avenue near Yale Street in Maplewood.
Owner and operator Mo Ayinde is taking orders and bringing customized drinks to each of her customers who are seated in a cozy area made up of couches and armchairs. The customers are forever thankful: they need all the help they can get as they are busy cradling and feeding a bunch of very adorable — and very demanding — infants.
“SOMA Families Meetup has been hosting New Mom’s Coffee at The Rack since April 2016,” SOMA Families Meetup organizer Diana Mendez told Village Green. “Mothers and More used to host this meetup before us.”
“The Rack it’s a wonderful place for new moms,” said Mendez. “They can have a warm meal (such a luxury during the baby’s first months) or just a cup of coffee, while they talk about their daily challenges and small victories. Every Wednesday, Mo re-organizes the sofas just for us in a square shape so moms could talk to each other easily.”
“The Rack is a great place for families.”
“I absolutely love The Rack!” said Dana Lewisohn. “I started going there when I first moved to Maplewood, and it quickly became a weekly thing when I joined the moms group that meets there.”
A great asset for The Rack is its spaciousness. While many coffeehouses in the towns are a tight squeeze, The Rack has plenty of open space, a dedicated parking lot out back and a big back patio for outside meetings in fair weather. “Mo is incredibly accommodating of all of us with our huge strollers, diaper bags and fussy babies,” said Lewisohn. “It’s a safe space to nurse and talk, in addition to serving wonderful food and amazing coffee.”
Lewisohn really loved the personalized attention she received: “Every week I ordered the same thing, an iced coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich. … And I always encouraged people to order the sandwich that I loved so much. Eventually Mo started joking that people should just order ‘The Dana’ because it was what I always suggested. And here we are, over a year later, and Mo officially calls my sandwich ‘The Dana.'”
A common thread among the new moms is the sadness they experience when maternity leaves end or work situations change and they can no longer visit The Rack for those weekly meet-ups.
“I’m now back to work so I can’t visit as much as I’d like,” said Lewisohn, “but I’m happy to hear that the moms group continues to meet there.”
If you’re not a new mom, don’t worry: The Rack accommodates everyone.
Mendez noted that Mo is very supportive of new activities. This summer, “a new event was created: LGBTQ Families & Friends, we hope we can continue hosting it every month.”
Community activist and local resident Erin Scherzer is another super Rack fan.
“The College Hill Neighborhood Association has enjoyed using The Rack for some of our meetings,” said Scherzer, citing the “comfortable relaxing environment with great coffee — perfect atmosphere to discuss matters impacting our neighborhood and town, and most importantly catching up as neighbors.”
Scherzer is a fan for more than the space and the coffee: “My family in Buffalo is obsessed with The Rack. When they are in town, they order the chocolate chip cookies by the dozens. And their obsession is to the point that I get the evil look if I don’t bring a couple of dozen of cookies when I travel to my hometown.”
Scherzer, who also volunteers with the Maplewood Recreation Advisory Committee, is a big booster of Springfield Avenue: “As neighbors, we are committed to the great businesses on Springfield Avenue. The Rack has been a great addition to the community.”
“I’m always shocked when I hear that someone hasn’t visited The Rack,” said Lewisohn. “It is definitely a great place, and Mo is beyond sweet!
Find out more about SOMA Families Meetup here.
The Rack, 1844 Springfield Ave, Maplewood, NJ, (973) 327-2353, therackccs.com.
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