Miguel Perez, owner of MeeMa’s restaurant stands inside his recently opened establishment that is dedicated to serving breakfast comfort food that encompasses a grandmother’s love. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)
Miguel Perez, owner of MeeMa’s restaurant stands inside his recently opened establishment that is dedicated to serving breakfast comfort food that encompasses a grandmother’s love.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

MeeMa’s encompasses a ‘grandmother’s love’ through their food

July 31, 2020

Nestled on Atlantic Avenue, in the heart of Bixby Knolls, you will find MeeMa’s a family-owned and operated restaurant serving up breakfast comfort food, which has recently opened amidst the COVID pandemic.

Owner Miguel Perez and Executive Chef Hugo Sanchez collaborated on the menu which features classic, Mexican breakfast items such as the chilaquiles inspired by Perez grandmother’s recipe, chorizo bean breakfast burritos and churro french toast. American staple dishes like steak and eggs and fried chicken sandwiches are also offered along with modern twists on traditional breakfast meals like their lemon & blueberry ricotta pancakes.

MeeMa’s Classic Breakfast Burrito has a hearty filling of farm fresh eggs, bacon, potato tots, cheddar cheese and homemade pico de gallo salsa verde wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

Plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available per request.

MeeMa’s, an endearing term that encompasses a grandmother, was originally planned to open in May, however, the date was pushed back to July due to COVID-19.

A step inside their establishment is like taking a step into a grandmother’s breakfast nook. Pastel walls are decorated with vintage photos and other mementos, influenced by the grandmothers in Perez’s life.

Miguel Perez, owner of MeeMa’s restaurant, stands next to a portrait of his grandmother Maria Ibarra, another main source of inspiration for his restaurant MeeMa’s. The recently opened establishment is dedicated to serving breakfast comfort food that encompasses a grandmother’s love. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

Two portraits show the inspiration of MeeMa’s, featuring Perez’s own Mexican grandmother, Maria Ibarra, and Eva Koehler, the Irish-German grandmother of his wife Jennifer Perez, giving the location a very “homey” feel.

Perez also invites fellow community members to bring in photos of their own grandmothers to also be included on MeeMa’s walls.

Although his own grandmother, Maria, didn’t speak English and his wife’s grandmother, Eva, didn’t speak Spanish, there was still that same universal “grandmother’s love” from both, that he wanted to emanate through MeeMa’s meals.

“They find comfort in us finding comfort in their food,” Perez said in reference to grandmothers.

Miguel Perez, owner of MeeMa’s restaurant stands next to a portrait featuring Eva Koehler, his wife Jennifer Perez’s Irish-German grandmother who also helped inspire the creation of MeeMa’s.
(Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

How MeeMa’s came to be

Perez comes experienced with a 20+ year background working in the hospitality business, a facet of that was specifically in the nightlife industry, bartending at locations on Second Street such as Panama Joe’s and even managing Legends Restaurant and Sports Bar. His work as a bartender made him realize that although he enjoyed serving people, he wanted to go toward a different crowd.

“I still love serving, I love serving people, I just didn’t want to serve in the nightclub aspect anymore, I wanted to just do a whole different aspect of it,” Perez said.

Sweet Crepe from MeeMa’s features a thin, french-style pancake that has been filled with Nutella, fresh strawberries and bananas. They are topped off with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and toasted almonds. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)

Add in the fact that breakfast was his favorite, and the idea for MeeMa’s began.

Growing up, Perez’s parents were constantly working, so his grandmother Maria had a significant presence in his life. He reminisced on how her cooking up breakfast on the weekends were some of the moments he felt the most love in his life.

“That’s what I’m trying to portray at the restaurant,” Perez said.

He felt a very similar love from Eva, his wife’s grandmother, whose house they had moved into for a period of time to help take care of her, rather than place her in a nursing home when she was older.

He then began noticing the similarities between the grandmothers.

“It was in the decorating and the way they kept the home and the way they dressed, it was all very similar,” Perez said. “It wasn’t so much a cultural similarity, more of a generational similarity”.

“That’s what I wanted to capture in the restaurant. There’s a lot of universalities with that particular generation, that grandma,” said Perez.

Although both grandmothers passed within days apart from each other in 2016, their grandmother’s love still lives on through MeeMa’s food.

MeeMa’s is located at 4276 Atlantic Ave. and is open from Tuesday-Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. To place an order for take-out/pick up and to-go orders call (562) 426-2626. Meema’s offers limited outdoor dining with proper social distancing between each guest. Follow them on Instagram @meemas_4276 and visit them online at meemas.net

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