One thing you can’t accuse Sue Marra, owner of Belmont Avenue’s Trackside Coffee Shop, of is being non-hospitable. On a recent, cold Friday morning, a local crossing guard’s car wouldn’t start. She put in a call to Sue, who picked her up and drove her to work.
And then Marra arrived at Trackside Coffee Shop, all set to prepare her standard five-dollar meals in a spot that, no lie, looks more like someone’s kitchen than a café.
“This is good home cooking,” says Marra, a former Roxbury resident who now lives in Belleville with her husband, Joe. “The customers keep me going; it’s like a home away from home.”
Yes, Trackside Coffee Shop, which she has owned for six years, is a great place to visit for camaraderie and friendship, but also for the food. Marra’s specialty is meat loaf – made with oatmeal.
“I was at someone’s house that I used to work with, and his Mom was making meat loaf with oatmeal. I thought she ran out of bread crumbs,” says Marra. She liked the taste back then, and her customers like it now. Also available are a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, and Italian entrees like eggplant parmigiana and ravioli, stuffed shells and more.
There are also the homemade cookies. A customer who brought her six jars of peanut butter just being friendly aided her creativity. “I ran out of the 50-cent bags of cookies, so I made my own,” she says, holding up a contained of fresh peanut butter cookies. “I also bake oatmeal raisin, coconut macaroon, and chocolate chip.”
Perhaps the most noticeable of many things inside Trackside Coffee Shop is Marra’s “Holiday Tree.” A tiny Christmas tree, it gets decorated for every holiday of the year. It is currently decorated for Valentine’s Day.
Marra claims that, even though her coffee shop sits beside a railroad tracks, those who enter and exit at stops rarely stop in, but walk-in traffic has increased. However, like most businesses, the rough economy has taken its toll.
“You know, I just like people, I just like to cook,” she says, when asked what keeps her going. “In fact, if you’re a regular and I don’t see you for 2-3 days, I’ll call you.” She smiles before continuing. “What other coffee shop will do that?”
Trackside Coffee Shop & Catering, 176 Belmont Avenue, (862) 902-3487. Call for hot and cold catering information.