Very often, we dream of making a change. Or even just stepping out of our comfort zones. But how many of us can actually say we have put aside our fears and took a leap of faith, not knowing what the future may hold?
Ramessis Aponte is someone who can attest to the power of doing so.
A Washington Heights native whose love for the food and beverage industry bypassed her career as a psychologist, Ramessis made a major change in her life in 2009 when she decided to leave the psychology field to pursue her dreams of owning her own business and opening a restaurant. In the years to come, Ramessis would begin saving for what would be her lifelong passion and soon watched all of her dreams come to fruition. Mon Amour Coffee and Wine, a French inspired coffee shop, launched its opening two months ago in the Riverdale/Kingsbridge area of the Bronx.
Located at 234 West 238th Street, Mon Amour is surrounded by blooming businesses including Edible Arrangements, BJs, and Bronx AleHouse amongst others. “There are no other coffee shops here. We wanted something different, something practical. You’ll find Spanish restaurants and bars, but no coffee shop. Nowhere for our locals to come and unwind after a long day of work,” Ramessis explains. And this is true, as the recently opened coffee shop has already gained an array of loyal customers, including a young girl who yelped at the idea of going to a French inspired coffee shop, so much so that she wore a red beret to fall in line with the theme of Mon Amour. As Dondre and I enjoyed apple cider and lattes, we also couldn’t help but notice the vast number of customers that frequented the shop on a Wednesday evening.
Ramessis shared with us the story of how Mon Amour came to be and some of their future plans for the shop. Ownership is shared by Ramessis, her husband (Ernies Alemais), and their business partner Jeff Garcia.
Jeff, who has been childhood best friends with Ernies since attending John F. Kennedy High School together, already owned the space. However, it was not until Ramessis proposed the idea of turning the space into a coffee shop that they began the blueprint for what is now a special rarity in the Bronx.
The inspiration behind the shop was people’s love for coffee and wine, along with wanting to bring something that hasn’t been exposed in the neighborhood. When asked what “Mon Amour” stood for, Ramessis said, “people love coffee and people love wine, so ‘my love for coffee and wine.’” She emphasized she felt there were not a lot of places where people can unwind and feel at home without having to head all the way to the city or dealing with the hustle and bustle at bars. “The idea of pairing coffee and wine caters to your morning people and your evening people,” she added.
To stand true to its name, the ambiance was immediately felt upon entry with brick covered walls, the sound of soft music filling the intimate space, and the smell of pastries filling your nostrils. The bright lighting and couch like seating made the shop feel very homey, not to mention a slight division where one half of the shop resembled a living room and the other half a kitchen. Our server wore a black and white pinstriped shirt, with a red necktie, in true Parisian spirit. For a brief moment, we left Kingsbridge and arrived at Rue de la Rouquette.
Some of the Pastries include an assortment of macaroons, cookies, muffins, and my personal favorite: the almond croissant (ask them to warm it up!). If you’re craving something heartier, they also offer grilled Paninis and various sandwiches. As a drink, I opted for the warm apple cider, which was nice and hot but not overly sweet. Dondre went with the Vanilla Latte (a personal favorite of his). For all of my wine lovers, the shop will begin serving an array of red and white wines in the coming weeks, so by the time you make your way there it should soon be ready for serving. To top it off, the service was impeccable as they treated us with the same attention one would receive if we were in a four star restaurant. The minor details, such as stopping by our table to bring extra Nutella or checking to see if our drinks were to our liking, really stood out to me. For a coffee shop, they sure knew how to make their customers feel warm, welcomed, and extra special.
When speaking of their future plans for the shop, Ramessis explained they would ultimately like to partner with distributors who have fresh farms. She made it clear that although her experience in the food and beverage industry is extensive, it is still a learning process for her and her partners. Ideally, they would like to expand the space and transition it into a full-blown restaurant. But for now, they are enjoying the fruits of their labor. They are grateful for the fact they are able to share such a positive endeavor in their neighborhood. She concluded by saying, “We wanted to start a trend and show people you don’t have to be afraid of investing money in your own community and in the Bronx.”
Way to go Ramessis, Ernies, Jeff, and the entire family at Mon Amour! We fully support your endeavors and enjoyed our time spent at Mon Amour. This is only the beginning of a budding relationship.
Coda’s Corner – 5 out of 5 stars especially for service and hospitality but primarily for the vision. Ramessis’ story serves as an inspiration to all those who have a dream and want to fulfill it but are afraid of taking a leap of faith.
Mon Amour Coffee & Wine is located at 234 W 238th st, Bronx NY, 10463.
“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” - Albert Einstein