Tucked into a bustling shopping center off of Holman Way, M&M’s Southern Cafe serves up hearty soul food a bit north of the border. Open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the dine-in restaurant serves everything from grits and cornbread to collard greens, candied yams and chicken livers.
Named after owner Mitchell Moore, he and his wife Geishula have lived in Sparks for more 20 years. Originally from Texas and Arkansas, Mitch started his career out as a barber and Geishula a manicurist. The couple felt that Sparks was on a good path towards good education, housing, and small business support, so they set anchor. Both of their families followed them out west (19 kids on Mitch’s side of the family, 12 on Geishula’s side, and six in between), plus Mitch’s mother who bakes all of the goods at M&M’s and works at a local salon.
“She bakes the bread pudding; we’ve been working together for a long time in the salon and food business,” Geishula says. Mitch and Geishula worked hand-in-hand doing what they loved, but Mitch’s heart was always in food. The couple took out a second loan on their house (“It was a lot of money, I was not happy,” says Geishula) and Mitch started up a food truck enterprise serving up simple things such as fried chicken, gumbo, fish and chips. Eventually wanting to expand and offer sides like sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and green beans, the Moors found the location next to Scolari’s and the Perfect Peace Community Church where Mitch also serves as a pastor.
Mitch leaves the house at 5 a.m. and gets home at 9 p.m. and M&M’s recently started serving breakfast. Even though they are closed on Sundays and Mondays, at least once a month Mitch and Geishula will serve a special feast for their congregation. One month they served an Italian meal, next was a Mexican feast. “Mitch can cook anything,” says Geishula.
However, M&M’s specialties are in items like alligator, oxtails, frog legs, and sweet tea. “We both grew up with chicken and grits,” Geishula says. With relatives spread out amongst Louisiana in Monroe, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, the Southern soul food is embedded in family tradition. “We have some mean cooks in the family…whew!” says Geishula. She says the family’s BBQ throw downs are always a good time filled with laughter, fun, and delicious food that they try to emulate in Northern Nevada.
“We like this location and the shopping center. We see a lot of neighborhood folks,” she adds. “Once you get their loyalty, you know when they’re coming in, what they like. Everyone has a routine- they order a certain thing on a certain day of the week. They’re like family to us. Everything’s made from scratch, which is tedious but the reaction of the people is worth it,” she adds.
In less than 10 minutes after ordering, a basket of frog legs and collard greens comes out. The collard greens have a wholesome, filling flavor that you can’t get from a can. Diving into the frog legs, there’s quite a bit of meat hugging the small, sneaky bones. They have a bit of a stringy texture and tastes saltier than a muscular alligator tail, but this is where some hush puppies and sweet tea help complement the brininess.
Although a dinner of frog legs, collard greens, hush puppies, and sweet tea is filling in itself, the heavenly smell of fresh baked beignets wafts through the restaurant. The big, deep-fried fluffy piles of dough topped with powdered sugar and served with maple syrup on the side ignite the senses of both taste and smell and are as irresistible as being in a Krispy Kreme store.
For good ‘ole fashioned Southern soul food, M&M’s is the place to go. Not only do they serve everything Southern-style under the sun that’s guaranteed to fill you up, it is very reasonably-priced. A sweet tea, alligator stick, frog legs, collard greens, hush puppies, and beignets all cost under $25 and it’s likely you’ll have food left to spare.