Monroe’s Fresh Café Creates Health-Conscious Comfort Food with Care

Owner Ozzie Ellis sources local meats and produce to meet diners’ dietary needs.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTORIA MOORWOOD

In a small café on busy American Way in Monroe resides some of the best breakfast potatoes, seasoned meats, special diet–conscious recipes, and the friendliest restaurant owners you could hope to meet.

Ozzie Ellis moved from Uzbekistan to the U.S. 18 years ago chasing the American dream. After cooking all her life and starting a catering bakery she ran out of her home, Ellis opened Fresh Café with one mission: feed every diet with delicious, nutritious comfort foods.

PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTORIA MOORWOOD

She started baking cakes for her Russian friends who missed home delicacies like the Kiev cake, a light buttercream-tasting meringue that originates from Ukraine and is popular all over the region. With her baking skills and growing clientele, she opened her own storefront eight months ago in Monroe, serving breakfast, lunch, dessert, and brand new dinner delicacies.

The shop offers an eclectic mix ranging from American comfort foods, like homemade goetta, and Middle Eastern dishes like falafels. “It’s somewhat of a fusion,” Ellis says.

It’s important to Ellis to cater to all dietary needs, which is why the menu offers a litany of ketogenic diet–friendly, vegetarian, and vegan dishes—all while utilizing local butchers and produce and avoiding additive-laden proteins by using in-house lunch meats.

PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTORIA MOORWOOD

“I grew up eating—not healthy-healthy, but eating right. I always wanted to make something clean and right for people,” she says.

Since opening, Ellis has added more American favorites like grass-fed beef hamburgers and homemade sirloin roast beef sandwiches. Her new dinner menu includes comfort foods, specials, and a well-seasoned sirloin steak, in addition to chicken Kiev and a quinoa and brown rice bowl.

PHOTOGRAPH BY VICTORIA MOORWOOD

Off the menu, her regular customers say she makes something new everyday and that she’s always open to new ideas and suggestions. If you’re looking for comfort foods created with care, Fresh Café might just hit the spot.

Fresh Café, 11 American Way, Monroe, (513) 360-7086, freshcafe.us

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