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Constant chatter filled the walls of the small cafe in downtown Neligh as owners Lori Dexter and Susan Mickelson accepted an award from Norfolk Daily News and the First National Bank for their emerging business.
However, the crowded room was nothing out of the ordinary for the business as Mamas and Nanas has been a home for many to sit and chat while enjoying some coffee and a home-cooked meal. Every morning the staff at Mamas and Nanas prepares for their regular crowd as well as many just making a quick stop.
An everyday regular Pat Van Ert explained, “Everyday we sit at the round table and drink our coffee, and when someone walks in, we just squeeze them in. We have had a lot of people from different places come in. We have had people from Arizona and Texas in going up to their summer home in Dakota. We had a lady from Connecticut come in this summer. And an Australian came in earlier this month. And just the other day we had a couple come in on a bicycle for two from Oklahoma that were riding the cowboy trail. It’s fun. Strangers come in and get acquainted.”
For years the little cafe in downtown Neligh has been a place for people to hangout and meet new people. Starting under the ownership of Mac and Mary Dagaillez, the cafe began as Mac’s Cafe. Downtown saw many different ownerships and names after that, but the little cafe has always been a place for the community to hangout.
Keeping the cafe alive, Dexter and Mickelson took over in the spring of 2014. The idea of owning a cafe has always been the back of their minds, but this dream quickly became a reality for the two.
Mickelson laughed as she explained, “We were sitting on the deck on April Fools, and Lori told me this place was for sale. And I said, ‘Gee, maybe we should buy a cafe.’”
The idea was no April Fools’ joke as the two made an offer on the cafe on the 7th of April, and just 4 short days later, their offer was accepted. Starting up their new business came quickly, as the two began cleaning and renovations on the 14th of the same month. The two said that they both walked out of a job to start up their dream, so it was a major priority to get the cafe running. Downtown Neligh then saw the grand opening of Mamas and Nanas on April 23rd.
Mamas and Nanas is home for not only the regular customers, but the employees as well. Although the crew at the cafe are not all blood, they call themselves a family.
Billie Moltmen, a waitress at the cafe, said, “It is really a great place to work. I’ve known Lori and Susan since I was ten years old. So, it’s been really good working with them. They’re good ladies to work for, and I love everyone from the community that comes in. It’s a great job.
Accepting this award is something that the community, employees, and owners of Mamas and Nanas are extremely proud of, and they hold their head high knowing they have accomplished not only their dream of starting a cafe but so much more.
“You are very rarely recognized in this business for what you do. So, it feels awesome,” Mickelson said.
The little cafe was the first to unveil the “emerging business” award which was sponsored by the Norfolk Daily News and First National Bank of Norfolk. As the sponsors looked around, they had no doubt that they had made the best decision in choosing Mamas and Nanas.