You also know what not to expect. This is not your place if you like listening to ‘80s hair bands on vinyl while wolfing down a sandwich.
In September, Mark and Lori Everest opened this oasis in the heart of Linglestown purposely to create a quiet, mindful escape for patrons. The restaurant’s concept actually originated with their son, Marcus, who struggled with anxiety and addiction. He came up with the name and everything the restaurant stands for.
“Feel good about yourself before and after you eat,” said Lori. “Sit in a relaxed atmosphere where everyone has value, is accepted and can talk about things no one really talks about.”
A Good Life
Mark and Lori have lived in the Harrisburg area for more than 20 years. They own two businesses above the café, Occupational Athletics and The Game Plan for Living, which is a website dedicated to energy, health and information.
When the prior first-floor business, First Impressions Spa, closed, Lori thought about what should take its place.
“We didn’t want another office or a retail space,” she said.
She knew it had to be something healthy and positive and that mental health would come into the plan. The couple decided on a restaurant, which evolved from a perceived need in the community.
“I wanted somewhere to eat and not feel gross afterward,” said Lori.
The couple hired Chef Shawn Grant, who specializes in organic, sustainable and raw foods.
“We want animals and people to have a good life,” said Grant, commenting on his menu items. “We are very sensitive to people’s needs, and a big percentage of customers have dietary and allergy restrictions.”
Sourcing as much food as possible from Dauphin County, Grant drives to Shady Acres Farm to pick out the hens while they’re still clucking. Grass-fed and locally raised beef comes from Warrington Farm Meats in Dillsburg.
“And all meat comes from the same animal at the same time,” he said. “No manufacturer, no mass-produced food.”
Even the head of the cow is used to make head cheese—not a dairy product, but a cold cut that originated in Europe—which is sliced thin and served on crostini.
When you walk into Mellow Minded Café, you place your salad, sandwich or small/large plate order at the register and then have a seat on a refurbished chair at a handmade table.
Or you can sit in the Cozy Corner, a little niche separated from the café where you can relax on a couch and write what “mellow minded” means to you on wall-sized chalkboard. In the restaurant, repurposed pallet boards cover most of the walls, and works by local artists decorate the café.
“I didn’t want to hire out for furniture or decorations,” said Lori. “It was way more fun to do it this way.”
Essential oils scent the handicapped-accessible bathroom, and a large community board has local postings. An open book and pen near the front door are ready for words of encouragement, troubles and comments.
The café employs real people doing real things. Daughters manage the business. Son-in-law Shane, who works full time at a bank, comes to the restaurant on his break, takes off his suit jacket, rolls up his sleeves and washes dishes. The employees in the separate businesses upstairs come down to help when it gets busy.
“I really love being here,” said Lori. “It’s kind of become an obsession.”
The couple recently added fire pits and a temporary porch enclosure. There is also a large deli case near the register for on-the-go food.
Soon after opening, they also helped found the Linglestown Artisan Trail, along with several other business owners: Marty Schoffstall of Spring Gate Vineyard, Geof Smith of St. Thomas Roasters, Melissa Rhoads of Made to Keep and Audra Dougherty of Mud Queen Pottery. Their goal is to promote the village and bring in businesses that are customer-oriented. Art, food, music, cider and wine can be experienced as you walk from one establishment to another.
Looking ahead, Grant said he would like to do more catering, while Lori wants the café to host small workshops during downtime. Mark wants to publish a “Mellow Minded Newsletter” on mellow things, attitude adjustment and informational resources.
Mark said he also plans to install a box by the entryway, so visitors can “leave their worries at the door.” The idea is to write down stresses on a piece of paper and drop them in.
I de-stressed by ordering a delicious spiced mango/peach and carrot smoothie and some kombucha probiotic tea, a drink based on an ancient fermentation technique. I found myself lingering for some time in the calming atmosphere and enjoying the healthy, innovative menu.
“Don’t worry about your food here,” Mark said to me. “Everything is coming from a good place.”
And it was a good place. I left with a full stomach and a smile and tossed the rest of that Pop Tart sitting on my car’s dash.
Mellow Minded Café is located at 5943 Linglestown Rd., Harrisburg (Linglestown). For more information, visit www.mellowmindedcafe.com or call 717-963-7633.