Paula Pace is back. The longtime owner of Las Olas Cafe, which was forced to close on May 30, has teamed up with her Wilton Wings business partner Scott Kraft to open The Mason Jar Cafe. The new restaurant features upscale comfort food in a comfortable cafe setting. Many from the staff at Las Olas Cafe have come to work here. Drinks, in my case Iced Tea, are served in mason jars with handles.
The previous occupant left the place in a total state of disrepair and there's still work to be done, but they couldn't wait any longer. If you wander in between lunch and dinner you may be sharing space with a contractor; but they'll still serve you. The dining room has a eclectic charm; they have some round tables and some square, ceiling fans and soft soothing music playing. There are no TVs here; you don't come here to watch a game.
Their menu features soup, sandwiches including grilled cheese made with Texas Toast and 3 cheeses, and a selection of comfort entrees that include pot roast, meat loaf and chicken pot pie. For a light lunch, I sampled "Ernesto's" Seafood Stew, which is more of a chunky soup with mussels, shrimp, carrots, tomatoes and chicken. The tasty tomato broth is flavored with Bay Leaf and Basil, and is quite soothing even on a blistering summer day.
The mason jar is not without their initial kinks and without a full staff I can't comment on the service. But they do need to get some splenda. People want their yellow.
Parking is an adventure and you must persevere to successfully get here. There are 3 skinny spots in the front which are likely to be taken during lunch or dinner. There's a "driveway" to a back parking lot, but its before the restaurant so if you miss it you can't get back to it, in which case you can turn into the next lot, go all the way through to Middle River Drive and go into the back lot. If you have a big car; park in the back lot and walk through the archway to the front of the building. If you have a smaller car you can try to navigate around the small apartment building; the mason jar rear entrance is right behind it and there are a couple of spots.
They plan on putting in a nice arched door here at some point, but for now this will have to do. If you're viewing this on a real PC I suggest you flip the map below into satellite mode and zoom in to see how to get into the back lot. Its difficult to describe and its somewhat complicated.