Mona's Cafe will begin serving downtown crowds next month

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The owners of Mona's Restaurant and Mo' Taco (RIP) will be launching a new restaurant downtown in coming weeks. Mona's Cafe, located in the former 212 Cafe spot at 1710 Sherman Street, is slated to open its doors the week of September 20, with a grand opening planned for September 29.

Linda Austin, who owns the restaurants with her husband Garen, says that while the new cafe's menu will share about 80 percent of its dishes with the other two Mona's restaurants, there will be some notable differences.

For example, Mona's Cafe won't have table service like the other two outposts. Dine-in customers will order at the counter and then have their food brought out to them in the dining area.

In addition, Mona's Cafe will stay open into the early evening serving cocktails and small plates. Austin says she has been excitedly coming up new drink combinations, including infused vodka drinks made with Izze soda.

The cafe will also just be open weekdays, unless people start beating down the doors demanding weekend service. "We're not sure how to do everything here just yet," she explains. "It's a new area for us -- a different animal."

The space, its walls painted in warm goldenrod and light blue, will feature what Austin describes as a "grab and go" area, where people can pick up pre-made sandwiches, oatmeal, salads and juice.

A takeout counter will offer customers espresso drinks and allow them to order burritos and other items, while a sit-down area will take up much of the dining room, with a high counter along the front window for people to plop down and watch the street scene.

At the far end of the long space, Austin points out places where a television will go up and benches will go in for people waiting for their orders. "A lot of people who work down here don't have time to sit and eat Davinci's crab cakes," she says, referring to a Mona's specialty.

The cafe will also feature daily specials.

Mona's Cafe will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch, transitioning into a cocktail hour, featuring small plates, until 6 p.m.

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