Where: Madhouse Cafe, a coffee shop in Roxbury next to Madhouse Motors motorcycle maintenance and repair shop.
Why: You need a place to be while your motorcycle is being repaired. You need a place to hang out, even if you’ve never ridden a motorcycle and don’t intend to. Madhouse Cafe is a cosy, stylish place with ocher walls, rich textiles and Levantine art. There are plants hanging from the ceiling, ample outlets for chargers, and books on motorcycles and art to flip through while sipping your latte. A large glass window on the back gives a view of the motorcycle shop.
The background story: J. Shia, artist and owner of Boston’s only motorcycle shop, moved her shop to a new location on Blue Hill Avenue in the midst of the pandemic. The space had an “odd spout” that looked like an ideal spot for a coffee shop. “I think it’s the only coffee shop in the area,” says Shia. “I thought it would be a spot for customers waiting for an oil change, but 90 percent of the people who walk in want a cup of coffee before work.” Shia, who had no prior hospitality experience, found out what the business was scouting cafes across the city, observing everything from what people were buying to the direction they headed after entering. The cafe and bike shop are both named after her childhood home in Cambridge – ‘a bit worn, kinda entertaining’ – which friends and family affectionately call The Madhouse. (The yard there was also home to Shia’s first motorcycle repair business, which started as a teenager.)
What to eat: Baklava! Shia is Lebanese and her mother makes the delicious phyllo-based pastry, which is fresher, lighter, and flaky than many versions. The shop also offers scones, croissants, vegan treats and other café items.
Something to drink: Your favorite hot and cold drinks are here – cappuccino, chai latte, hot chocolate. The tahini latte, a house specialty, pairs perfectly with the baklava.
Take away: The staff and atmosphere are welcoming, Rihanna sings “Love on the Brain” in the background, and you can buy a Madhouse Motors onesie for your favorite babe. Madhouse Cafe brings something new and necessary to this stretch of Blue Hill Avenue.
24 Blue Hill Avenue, Roxbury, www.madhousecafe.com