Two weeks ago, Moomah cafe in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood re-opened for kids and parents alike, and the owner just so happens to be Tracey Stewart. Wife of Jon Stewart. Yes, that one.
Stewart, who has two kids, age 6 and 7, took the time to chat with us about her café revamp (it had briefly closed last month), her upcoming magazine, and why she decided to open a café in the first place.
The Daily Meal: So that's kind of an interesting name, Moomah. Where did it come from?
Tracey Stewart: Moomah was my security blanket when I was little, or it’s actually this teddy bear, you know those old worn teddy bears? He had this red knit scarf. So when I started to think about what I wanted the place to be, I wanted it to be a sanctuary for frazzled parents.
TDM: What made you want to open a café?
TS: Before I had kids I really loved eating out and I loved going to cafés, and I’m a terrible cook and I’m really lazy. Once I had kids, my choices of where I could go got really limited, so I wanted to create a space where I could go with my kids.
TDM: So why did you close in the first place?
TS: Originally, when we first opened we wanted to have great coffee, great food, healthy things, things for kids, so our menu was very diverse and very complicated and it was fantastic, but it was also labor intensive. It was really hard for us to stay on top of all of that with labor costs and food costs with such abundance. We were getting a little defeated.
TDM: And so you simplified the menu and changed things up?
TS: In a strange way, it's actually better now. We simplified the menu, and we expanded a lot of the coffee choice. With the space, we made the front more of a café and a coffee house style. In the back there's a lounge with a classroom.
TDM: But then you also have this new magazine, D.I.T. (Do It Together) Magazine for stories, recipes, art projects, all that?
TS: At Moomah, we really enjoyed all the stories we got from people, all the relationships we built, because we offered a place that was soothing and welcoming to parents. We would kind of hash things out and figure out everybody’s problems, and there was so much good stuff that was happening it felt like a shame that we couldn’t have a broader reach for some of the stuff.
TDM: And if we were to ever drop by the café, would we run into Jon Stewart?
TS: It could happen, but I will not specify the time that that may happen.
Moomah is located at 161 Hudson Street in New York City. Check out Tracey Stewart's tips for dining out with your kids at Moomah's D.I.T. Magazine.