Eat Your Breakfast!
Mary Ann Fitzmorris October 02, 2019 05:00 Breakfast
On Monday the 23rd, Liz Munson quietly reopened her phenom cafe Liz’s Where Y’at Diner, on Florida St. in Mandeville. The place is spiffier than the old place, but otherwise exactly the same. The old counter has been replaced by a tiki bar, but all the Caribbean colors are here. It wasn’t closed that long, not enough for it to lose any of the warmth and love that exudes from Liz and her beloved customers, who comprise a sort of cult following.
Liz came over and threw her arms around me. As a non-regular, I didn’t earn such treatment, but I think you could walk in the door for the first time and feel that. She realized her passion for hospitality very early. After leaving college, she shared a place with a few friends, and cooked for them as they entertained in the backyard. It’s where Liz’s “Goulash” was created, and I had that today. This is a biscuit covered with grits (cheese or regular) and roast beef debris gravy (this is THE roast beef gravy taste), topped with two eggs as you wish. Tom had French Toast with almonds, and a discussion ensued with Liz about “real” maple syrup. She said that when she opened she bought the good stuff but no one recognized it. Not surprising. That’s why other places have it on request. Tom suggested she adopt that program. The bacon was unusually thick and smoky. You could smell it walking up to the place.
For three long months, there were no good smells emanating from this place. The diner burned down in June, and she is still in discussions with the insurance company. She reopened so quickly only by borrowing the money, just as she did ten years ago when she originally started.
Liz grew up the youngest of six sisters, all daughters of a man in the coffee business. About forty years ago, a few of her older sisters dreamed aloud of opening a place selling coffee. Her father scoffed at the idea, saying they would never make it. Liz was the youngest so she didn’t listen to her father’s lack of vision. After dropping out of school, she went to work as a waitress, then at Godchaux’s, where she quickly moved into management. She discovered a talent for managing people, and she loved interacting with them. One day she moved to the north shore to begin anew, finding a decrepit old building in a great location. She wanted only one thing-it had to have black and white checkerboard floors. Everything else fell into place. The bright tropical look reflects Liz’s inner spirit.
The menu at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner is enormous, but it really isn’t about the food. It’s about the love Liz shares with her customers. When she was home after the fire she spent a lot of time weeping. There was no real reason for such feelings. She was safe, the business was safe. But she finally realized she missed her customers. And she realized there was no need for her to spend any time at her beach house in Florida. Yes, she had always wanted one, but everything she needed was right there on Florida St. She couldn't wait to get back to work.
It was busy as always at the diner today, as more and more people discover she is open. On Saturday there will be a grand opening of the new place, starting at 4pm with a second line from the fire station on Girod Street where new friends saved her business in four minutes. The party will follow until 8pm, and Liz will welcome everyone back to their favorite gathering spot. With a big hug.
Liz's Where Y'at Diner
2500 Florida St. Mandeville
Mon-Fri . 6am-2pm
Saturday & Sunday 7am-2pm