By Madeleine LaPlante-Dube, For The Miami Student
Oxford's Morning Sun Cafe found a new home over winter term, moving just around the corner from High Street to Beech Street. The cafe now shares space with the more elegant dinner operation, Stella.
A year or two after buying the Stella building in 2007, co-owners Cher Uhl and her husband Tom decided they wanted to try serving breakfast and lunch elsewhere, prompting the opening of Morning Sun Cafe.
"It was really good place, but it was never ours, and [the owner of the High Street location] was never interested in selling it," Cher Uhl said on the move. "We were putting a lot of money into repairs over there to keep up with the health code and we didn't even own it. It was just getting ridiculously expensive to keep it up."
Over winter term, the family transformed Stella into a double operation.
"It's been wild," Uhl said, who is also a professor in Miami's English department and Peace Corp alumna. "It was in December that we stopped serving at the cafe and started the process of moving things. It took most of the winter break because we wanted to reinforce the floor here, just make this facility stronger."
Since the move, Morning Sun Cafe @ Stella goes through a daily metamorphosis; Cafe by day, Stella by night. Uhl, however, wants to reinforce that Morning Sun Cafe is still the same easygoing operation students and residents of Oxford have come to know.
"It's still a comfortable, casual breakfast lunch operation," she said. "We didn't turn it into a swanky Stella's breakfast or anything."
And the Morning Sun menu remains essentially identical to its predecessor.
"We didn't try to change very much because we wanted people to come and have the same food they already learned to love," Uhl said.
The operation is still in the works, however. Grace Fetters, sophomore at Miami and recent Morning Sun Cafe @ Stella customer comments that the service, while polite, was slow at first.
"But the food was still really good," Fetters said.
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As a family with multiple already-established restaurants, the complications of service are no mystery to the Uhl's. As with every move, getting the details sorted may take time.
"We're going to have, essentially, two kitchens and two inventories," Uhl said. "We are still in the process of moving the oven in over from the Morning Sun and getting the Ansul system in so that we can have two ovens, and have two lines."
As a family-owned operation, however, the restaurant is still not without its personal touch.
"The restaurant was named after my grandmother, Stella," Uhl said. "Both my husband and I thought she was a self-made woman. She always cooked for us. She also kept a garden, which is a tradition we also continue - in the summer we grow vegetables that we bring into the restaurant. She knew how to forage and find dandelion greens for cooking, and grew rhubarb and stuff like that. Fun things. She appreciated good food."
And the appreciation of good food and informal atmosphere is what the Uhl's hope to cultivate with this new move.
"What I'm hoping for from the combination of the two restaurants is that people who came to Stella, but didn't know or visit Morning Sun will see it now in a new way, and [vice versa]. The population that had been in Morning Sun but never came to Stella will see that it's an approachable restaurant. It's family-owned, an easy place to come to."
Interested customers can find Morning Sun Cafe's new home at 12 Beech St., or contact the restaurant at (513) 523-7835.