Mother’s Café opened in Austin in June, 1980. Cameron Alexander started there on Day 1 as a cook. Anne Daniels began in November 1980 as a server and shift manager. John Silberberg was hired in June 1981 as a server. In 1985, the three of them bought the restaurant from the founder, and they continued to guide Mother’s through what became a 40-year run as a uniquely “Austin” restaurant.
Over the years, Mother’s Café became a part of the life of so many people. We’d see a young couple as regular diners, later provide cakes for their wedding, and eventually see them in with their entire family, including the grandchildren. That feeling of family extended into our staff as well, as numerous former “Motherites” stayed in touch, telling us years later of fond memories of their “best job ever”.
We hadn’t really understood what we meant to Austin until our fire in 2007, which closed us for 7 months. As we neared the re-open, without any publicizing, our corner was abuzz. Person outside on cell phone: “Mother’s is opening!” Person driving by, shouting out the window: “Are y’all opening up?” Later that day, quietly and without any fanfare, we unlocked the front door at 5:15. By 6pm the restaurant was full.
Over the years we garnered many positive reviews, first from local publications, then occasional mentions in a national publication, then online reviews and comments. Posts like “if you visit Austin, you gotta try Mother’s Café” were so gratifying.
More than anything else, online comments raved about our cashew-tamari dressing. An example from Trip Advisor, April 2019: “I'll start with Mother's Cashew Tamari salad dressing by saying that in all my restaurant exposures, both nationally and beyond, IMO this is probably the tastiest salad dressing I've yet encountered.”
Due to this enthusiasm, we began bottling cashew tamari dressing and selling to a handful of local groceries. It was worked into our kitchen routine, although never more than just a sideline within the overall endeavor.
Then, in March 2020, everything changed, for us and for everybody the world over. The big “40 years!” publicity we had planned became meaningless. As the pandemic continued well into Summer, it gradually became clear that Mother’s Café would close.
Probably the prime concern for our supporters, once the shock settled in, was one simple thing: will I still be able to get my cashew tamari dressing? People started buying it by the case, multiple cases even. We assured them, it’s still going to be in local stores. We secured a production facility, and there would be no interruption in the supply of what so many people have called “Best. Dressing. Ever.”
Mother’s Café is now closed, been gone almost six months. But the Mother’s Café love is still there. It’s that love that drove us, decade after decade, to create happy and healthy dining experiences day after day. And that love still drives us to bring some of Mother’s Café to people.
We are beginning the next phase of our Mother’s Café journey, learning about the food product landscape, the grocery world, brand identity, marketing, and building networks. It’s new, different, exciting. We’re starting with the product we already have, the cashew tamari dressing. Looking farther ahead, our goal is to package some of the favorite entrees from Mother’s Café, one day coming to a freezer near you!
We brought creativity, resilience, and determination to Mother’s Café, keeping it an Austin institution for 40 years through day-to-day effort. We are jazzed at the prospect of now bringing all that to the Mother’s Café retail product brand. And there’s no better way to start than with our cashew tamari dressing. Best. Dressing. Made in Texas. Ever.