THE MIXING BOWL MIXES UP CLASSICS AND SMILES AS A FAN FAVORITE
Aug 15, 2022
Ask any restaurant owner and whether it’s a food truck or a gourmet eatery, they will all tell you that owning and operating a restaurant is challenging. Stephanie Blaco agrees. She owns and operates The Mixing Bowl, one of three small business Honeywell Fan Favorite winners of the 2022 Small Business Celebration. “It’s a lot,” she says with a smile. “But I’m so proud of myself and some days I just still can’t believe it.”
Blaco has a lot to be proud of. She came to The Mixing Bowl after being released from prison in July 2020. She served 10 years for drug abuse and misconduct. But during her final few months behind bars, she realized she couldn't continue the path she was on. She was ready to change and begin a new chapter. Her father had been a regular at The Mixing Bowl, and when he saw how hard she had worked, he bought the restaurant.
“It’s always busy,” said Blaco. “We serve breakfast and lunch six days a week.” The Mixing Bowl also caters and does delivery, something that’s been an asset during the constant ups and downs of running a business during the era of COVID.
The Mixing Bowl regulars who come in love the homestyle menu, which features items like pork tenderloin, omelets, breakfast burritos, French toast, Reubens and other classics. But Blaco knows it’s more than just the food. “I make sure that I welcome everyone and say hello to each person that comes through the door,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard because it does get really busy, especially on the weekends, but that’s just who I am. I want people to feel welcome here.”
She also wants The Mixing Bowl to continue to be a success. Blaco said she was thrilled when she learned that The Mixing Bowl was one of the winners of the Honeywell Fan Favorite Award, voted on by those who attended the Small Business Celebration in April. “This means a lot. This shows that I can do this and we’re making people happy. Yes, I’ve made mistakes in the past but that’s over. Running this restaurant and being a small business owner is who I am now. It’s challenging, but that’s what running a business is about. It’s challenging out here, and it’s easy in there,” she said referring to prison. “It may be easier but I’m not going back.”
Her background also means she cares about the community. Over Thanksgiving she gave away more than 75 meals to homeless patrons. She also helped employees who have had health issues, making sure an employee dealing with cancer didn’t miss a paycheck even as he underwent treatment.
It hasn’t been easy. On the day Blaco spoke to the Chamber, the restaurant was briefly closed for a maintenance issue (“I’m learning it’s always something,” Blaco said with a laugh) but that’s not what’s been the hardest.
Her father and business partner Mitch, who she calls her best friend, had a brain tumor removed in early March. Since then, he has had to relearn how to walk, talk, sit, stand, swallow, and more. As his recovery and rehabilitation continued, it meant that Stephanie had been away from the restaurant for several months caring for him. “The doctors said it was a miracle that he came out of the surgery ok,” she said. “It’s been hard, but he’s doing ok and he’s moving forward a bit every day.”
Blaco is also moving forward. After taking time to care for her dad, she was able to get back to The Mixing Bowl in early August, welcoming customers, serving up sandwiches, and growing a small business. “I just love seeing the customers and greeting people.”
The Mixing Bowl is located at 2934 Southwest Boulevard and serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 7am – 2pm.