Angela Hardgrave Face it—change can make us uncomfortable in most circumstances. New jobs, moving to a different city, or children leaving for college can leave us feeling a little lost. But, when that change involves our favorite restaurant, we become passionate defenders of the status quo. There are times, however, when change takes something great and makes it even better, which is the case for the recent move of Café Louisa and Tomatinos Pizza & Bake Shop to Cloverdale Road in thehistoric district of Old Cloverdale in Montgomery.
Husband and wife owners Missy and Browne Mercer did not take the decision to move their restaurants lightly. There were many pros and cons throughout the process that had to be considered, but the two most important considerations were the customers and their own family. “Our main factor in moving was that the bakery at Woodley needed to be consolidated into Café Louisa to better manage it and getproducts to customers quicker. The move also provides a long-term stability,” said Missy. “Relocating was the best decision for our family,” added Browne.
They are both happy about the move, even with the inevitable bumps along the way. Their regular customers followed them, and they have gained even more new customers. Some of their loyal patrons were skeptical that it wouldn’t feel the same after the move. Missy said, “Wepaid attention to the aesthetic to make sure that it felt familiar. We alsoadded more staff to better serve people. So far, we haven’t heard anything negative.”
The Mercers want each experience in their restaurants to be amazing for their customers. “We want people to know that we are ingredient people. We are super consistent and always use the same quality ingredients. We would rather change a vendor over changing to a different ingredient, especially one that might be lower quality. We have ridden the wave of price changes to keep everything the same,” said Missy.
The Mercers are excited to still be doing what they love. “Café Louisa and Tomatinos are the perfect fit for us. I like to be in the kitchen with my people and work hard. I’m from an Italian family, so I love to bake and cook and serve people, and that’s what we’re about. We work to make everyone happy, and we just want to get the word out that we’vemoved. Come and check us out!” said Missy.
The Mercers have owned Café Louisa since 2004. The cafe and sandwich shop specializes in organic fair trade coffee, sandwiches, freshly made soups and baked goods. They bake their organic bread in house daily and use only the finest ingredients. Café Louisa even has a barista ready to whip up a smoothie or espresso shake from scratch. From bagels with veggies or smoked salmon, quiche, and organic yogurt and granola for breakfast to grilled turkey or portobello sandwiches, salads, and desserts for lunch, customers love the fact that there are so many delicious and healthy options with no preservatives. They also offer breakfast and lunch catering options, such as a muffin or biscuit platter, a fruit platter, box lunches or salad boxes.“
Since moving Café Louisa, we have been able to add more seating to better serve customers. There is also more light, adding to the openness of the space. It has the same feel, but better,” said Missy.
When asked about any possible changes for the future, Missy said, “We are thinking of the possibility of adding a bread of the week and a sandwich of the week to keep options interesting for our customers.”
Café Louisa is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. www.cafelouisa.com
Tomatinos Pizza & Bake Shop
Tomatinos, established in 1995, has had a singular focus, which is “to serve the best pizza with the highest quality ingredients in a funky, eclectic atmosphere.” When Missy and Browne Mercerpurchased the restaurant in 2004, they worked hard to live up to that focus—and have succeeded for the past 13 years.
They make “fresh, wholesome pizza with local organic or better quality ingredients than the competition.” Tomatinos’ menu includes familiar pizza offerings such as Margherita, Supreme and Vegetarian, but also boasts specialties like a Funky Chicken Pizza, a Sicilian pizza with meatballs, caramelized onions and Alabama goat cheese, and the Bianca, a white pizza topped with Canadian bacon, red onion, garlic, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Customers can also enjoy a selection of salads, breadsticks, focaccia and calzones.
Since the move, the Mercers have added two more pizza ovens than they had in their previous location. Missy said, “With an expanded kitchen, we have more of an ability to add to the menu. Like I said, I grew up in an Italian family, and we had the tradition of Sunday dinner.My friends in college always wanted to come to Sunday dinner at my
house. They couldn’t believe the amount of food! We have considered adding that to our menu in the future.”
Tomatinos is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. www.tomatinos.com