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Georgina Young-Ellis recommends this historic neighborhood gathering place in Maplewood

SUBMITTED PHOTO: GEORGINA YOUNG-ELLIS - Maplewood Coffee and Tea is located at 5206 S.W. Custer St.

Tucked away in a corner of the Maplewood community of Southwest Portland is Maplewood Coffee & Tea, a delightful little café that serves breakfast and lunch every day, and dinner the latter part of the week. You may have never chanced upon it because it is somewhat off the beaten path, in the midst of a lovely neighborhood, at 5206 S.W. Custer St. It seems like an unlikely place for a restaurant, or even a coffee house, sitting there surrounded by private homes. However, before its latest incarnation, it was a going establishment for years and years as a general store and post office that used to be referred to as the Green Store. From the time the Green Store opened in 1911 until it closed in 1976, it was the hub of the neighborhood, a place where people would post notices, get their mail, pur

chase grocery items and enjoy the penny candy and ice cream that was sold there. After it closed, the Green Store was sold and used as a residence until current owner Jo Whitsell purchased it in 2012 and converted it into Maplewood Coffee & Tea, keeping it true to its roots as a neighborhood meeting place. The atmosphere is simultaneously cozy and spacious, with rustic wooden floors and tables spread out comfortably. You

can relax while you eat or drink, play one of the board games they keep on hand or pick up one of the newspapers or magazines that are always available for your perusal. When I popped in with Jon, we were not there to have a meal, but instead sampled a delicious hibiscus iced tea and a gorgeous decaf mocha while lounging in a sunlit corner. The food looked great, though, especially the pastries on display that come from Pearl Bakery and New Cascadia, including gluten-free and vegan options. The coffee comes from the local Extracto Coffee Roasters, and the teas from Jasmine Pearl Tea and Dragonfly Chai. If you're there to munch, breakfast will get you waffles,

frittatas, a breakfast bowl and more; plus, you can always add the divine-sounding thyme biscuit for a couple of extra bucks. For lunch there are inventive salads and sandwiches, and dinner offers roasted chicken, a sausage plate, a veggie burger and a vegan dinner bowl. Order at the counter, and your food will be delivered to your table. They've got local and imported red and white wines, as well as beer and cider. Happy hour is every day from 4-7 p.m.; you can get beer or cider in $4.50 pints, while wine is a dollar off a glass and two dollars off a bottle to stay. Sundays, mimosas are just $6. Breakfast is served Monday through Wednesday until 11 a.m., and Thursday through Sunday until 2 p.m. Lunch is served all day, every day, and dinner is from 5-8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. I stopped on my way out and chatted with a nice lady who told me how much she and her family value Maplewood Coffee & Tea in the neighborhood. She said they've enjoyed bingo nights the second Thursday of every month, and trivia nights on the last Thursday of the month. It turns out you can even rent the space after hours for parties and such. Within walking distance from so many other nearby neighborhoods in Southwest Portland, Maplewood Coffee & Tea is an ideal place to enjoy a

leisurely Sunday brunch, an afternoon coffee and pastry, a healthy dinner, breakfast with the family or lunch with a friend. I live for discovering these hidden treasures, and I'm so glad I stumbled upon this one. Rating: Extraordinarily Sincere Georgina Young-Ellis moved to Multnomah from Queens, N.Y., in 2015. She explores the world outside of big-box chain stores to find local businesses intent on customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience. To read more about her experiences at Portland-area shops, visit Searching4Sincerity.com.

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