by Sally Mitani
Maple Miller Plaza (as it's called, though it has no sign and no frontage on Miller) has been the site of interesting, if not always long-lived, food experiments, like the Mercado Sabor Latino. It will now be revitalized with two new food stops, both of which hope to be in full swing by early next year.
Several years ago, personal trainer Susan Todoroff began catering and delivering healthy prepared food (you can buy her salads at Vie Fitness). Recently her Juicy Kitchen has been operating out of a commercial kitchen hidden on the backside of Maple Miller Plaza. That made Todoroff one of the first to know about the vacancy left by Maple Gardens, and she snapped it up. "There are whole neighborhoods out here," she says, gesturing west and north, "and a real lack of places where you can get a healthy breakfast and a good cup of coffee." She hopes to have her cafe open by the first of the year, serving Mighty Good coffee, breakfast sliders, and quinoa bowls.
Meanwhile, Susan Thomas and Khaled Houamed are planning to open El Harissa Market Cafe, a Tunisian cafe, deli, and market, a few doors down in the former Mercado Sabor Latino. The couple, who met in London twenty-five years ago when Khaled was a PhD student, hope to have part of the market open sometime in December. In January they'll be taking over the commercial kitchen when Todoroff vacates it, and they hope to be selling their own food by February. Like what? "Well," says Thomas, the cook in the family (a Londoner, she says her grandmother cooked "in the big houses, as in Upstairs Downstairs"), "there's a wonderful sandwich called fricasse--fried bread filled with tuna, potatoes, and harissa," the North African spicy chili paste. "She's an amazing couscous-maker," says Khaled. He adds, "we'll be educating the community about the Berber culture, and helping the traditional farmers and producers in North Africa to achieve a good living."
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