2 restaurants merged in this unique new partnership in Monroe

From left to right: Naiyozcsia “Mz Jade” Thomason, owner of Mz Jade’s Soul Food, and Ozoda “Ozzie” Ellis, owner of Fresh Café, in Monroe. CONTRIBUTED

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From left to right: Naiyozcsia “Mz Jade” Thomason, owner of Mz Jade’s Soul Food, and Ozoda “Ozzie” Ellis, owner of Fresh Café, in Monroe. CONTRIBUTED

Two Monroe restaurants have merged to help their owners share their love of serving customers with a variety of meal options.

Fresh Cafe, operated by Ozoda “Ozzie” Ellis, merged with Mz. Jade’s Soul Food, operated by Naiyozcsia “Mz. Jade” Thomason, at 11 American Way in Monroe in September 2019.

Ellis and Thomason said they share a love for cooking, so they came up with the idea to merge both restaurants with two different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner to give their customers a wide selection of healthy and comfort foods.

Thomason formerly had a restaurant on Yankee Road in Middletown, and Fresh Cafe has been open since April 2018.

“I have always been passionate about the baking and eating right of nutritious foods and meals,” said Ellis, whosehusband daughter also work at the restaurant.

“When I found out that a local restaurant space was available for rent in my town, I immediately wanted to take advantage of opening my own restaurant/ bakery for those who were looking for places to eat nutritious meals.”

All the baked goods at the restaurant are baked by Ellis.

“My passion for baking started when I was 11,” she said. “I wanted to play with flavors and ruined probably 100 cakes before I came up with some good flavors.”

The Fresh Café baking specialties include keto cheesecake, Russian honey cake and Kiev cake. Other favorites are the keto bowl or quinoa, brown rice bowl, Greek salad, farmer’s choice omelet and the fiesta wrap.

“Customers find it very convenient having two restaurants together,” Ellis said.

Thomason also had an early beginning with food.

“My grandma (Elmira Jones) raised me from 7 years old. Cooking is my passion, my born gift. I’ve been cooking and preparing meals since I was a little girl, taught by my grandmother. Cooking good home-cooked meals bring people together just like the old days,” she said.

“She taught me how to cook and put love in all my food, and how to be smart and be a lady. She was there for me every step of the way. I remember, so many days, I sat in the kitchen with her and my grandfather cutting and mixing up different foods. She was from Helena Arkansas. She passed away April 23, 2003. I really miss her.”

Thomason’s family is involved in her restaurant.

“I still call my mom (Ammie King) for her special recipes,” she said. “My sister, Aieisha King, comes from Detroit every month and stays two weeks to help me. Also my aunt, from Arkansas, travels to help me. My daughter, Naiyai King, is cashier on weekends,and my close friend, Thomas King, is one of my head chefs.”

Shaina Weekley works for both restaurants as a cashier and waitress, and she cleans and helps Thomason serve her catering.

Notable offerings at Mz. Jade’s include seafood, smothered pork chops, Philly cheesesteaks, sweet heat chicken sandwich, chicken dumplings, meatloaf, ribs, greens, macaroni and cheese, yams and salmon patties.

Contact contributing writer shirl54bel@gmail.com

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