New Fanwood café offers delectable sweets and social atmosphere

by Mia Rossi, Maria Pansulla and Olivia Paladino
A pastry shelf filled to the brim, a line of delectable gelatos and sorbets in varying flavors, extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus and a bustling atmosphere perfect for teenagers, kids, and their families to spend time after school or on the weekends. This is Mara’s Café and Bakery, located in the developing downtown of Fanwood.
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Mara’s comfortable small-town atmosphere includes large windows, hardwood floors, two countertops and an abundance of seating opportunities.  Its convenient location on South Avenue makes it easily accessible to students living on both the North and South side of town – convenient for study groups, meals or just a place to spend time with friends.
“Mara’s is a great location for a quick bite to eat on the way home from school,” said senior Cody Biondi. “Both the panini and gelato I had were really good.”
Another aspect of Mara’s that is attracting teens is the job opportunities.
“We’re a lot busier than anyone expected, including corporate. I still have to hire more staff,” said owner of Mara’s Marci Semel. “I have hired a lot of teenagers and am really impressed. They are all extremely hardworking and very respectful.”
Junior Olivia Buttigheri has recently acquired a job at the café, which is in walking distance from her house.
“It’s a great high school job to have. I made friends with all of the other workers quickly, and everyone’s happy and fun,” said Buttigheri. “Mara’s is always busy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the store completely empty before kicking everyone out. It’s exactly what the Scotch Plains-Fanwood area needed.”
Mara’s has several breakfast, lunch and dinner items, including omelets, muffins, paninis, soups, salads and pizza. The breakfast items range from $2.29 to $7.59 and are served throughout the day.  Paninis, wraps and pizzas are priced at $7.99 each, salads cost $7.99, and five dinner items cost from $10.99 to $13.99.  Among the unique options are the “build your own” omelets and sliders.
Mara’s desserts are what make it especially appealing to teens   who just want a quick after-school bite. Mara’s has a wide selection of gelatos, cannolis, cookies, cupcakes, mousses and brownies.  Cheesecakes, trufflecakes and pies by the slice range in price from $4.39 to $4.99.
“For a local, family-owned business Mara’s is over-priced because people do not want to pay that much for such small portions,” said junior Laura McGovern of Mara’s prices.
Other students think the prices  are worth it.
Junior Alyssa Riporti is willing to pay the price for some of Mara’s unique coffee drinks, teas and smoothies.
“The iced chai latte that I had was excellent. It was different from anything I have ever had before at a coffee shop or bakery,” said Riporti.
The coffees are priced from $1.89 to $3.09. Espresso bar items range from $2 to $4.
Some desserts that customers may be willing to splurge on are Mara’s cupcakes in several flavors such as Oreo, peanut butter and red velvet.
An individual cupcake is $3.39, and a small gelato is $3.79.  Mara’s Snickers pie is another unique and delectable dessert item. It consists of a graham-cracker crust and cheesecake filling topped with chocolate fudge and Snickers pieces. This pie is an original take on a classic candy bar, which makes it attractive to a large audience, especially candy-craving teens and children.
Mara’s has a long history in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood area that may be unknown even to residents.  Mara’s wholesale bakery, located in Morristown, supplies sweet pastries and baked goods to local eateries such as Ferraro’s in Westfield and Grille Stone on  Route 22 in Scotch Plains.
With its array of options from breakfast to after-school snacks to dinners, Mara’s is swiftly becoming a hot spot for town residents.
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Mara’s Café and Bakery
250 South Ave, Fanwood
[email protected]
Open Monday-Thursday 6am-10pm
Friday-Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.