Thursday, April 16, 2009

Democrat and Chronicle Article

Gates' Melon Bean caters to kids, adults

Melon Bean Eatery owner Andrea Hughes, left, with daughters Ava, 4, and Meadow, 6.

Andrea Hughes is a working mother of two young girls, so it's understandable that she resorts to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and crust-free PBJs for lunch and dinner.

The funny thing is, she does so at the restaurant she opened in January.

Who in their right mind would go out for lunch and order such juvenile victuals?

Juveniles, of course. Hughes' Melon Bean Eatery in Gates welcomes kids with a secluded padded play area that includes a kiddy kitchen and closet full of craft supplies that get pulled out every Friday evening for the critters to nurture their inner geniuses (the college tuition bill will come soon enough — the weekly craft night is free).

Meanwhile, parental units can nurture their woefully neglected inner adult over lattes, panini (the grilled ham and pineapple will only elicit "yucks" from the youngsters), wraps (careful, the kids might want your peanut butter and banana wrap with chocolate chips), salads (how about your own plate of apples, greens, walnuts and feta?) or cheesecake (from Cheesy Eddie's) at real café tables. If the kids need a minor refueling, wholesome snacks (cheese sticks, fruit cups, yogurt, applesauce, cereal bars) are on hand.

Isn't it nice to find a happy hybrid of Starbucks and Chuck E. Cheese's?

Of course, you don't have to be a kid to go crustless. The usual for one customer, a big, brawny construction worker, happens to be two PBJs from the "Kids Sammies" list, according to Hughes. Yours truly couldn't resist the mac and cheese, served in a little granny-esque bowl, but thrown over my romaine, tomato and red onion salad and mixed altogether in a way that surely would have annoyed my mom several decades ago.

I don't have any offspring to add to the ambiance, but I did enjoy getting the "best of" list from Hughes' pretty-in-pink 4-year-old, Ava. She recommends her mom's soup, even though it came off the menu when the snow went away.

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