Enter Sweet Peas, described by owner Danielle Pastore as not kid- or family-friendly but “parent-friendly.” The little red bungalow with a yard shaded by oak trees offers organic, homemade, hearty dishes for breakfast and lunch, like the bacon, kale, and tomato sandwich with house-made honey-mustard dressing, served on wheatberry bread. For breakfast, one of the menu items is a porridge that can be served with fresh or dried fruit, organic flax, organic cream, and/or brown sugar. Or there is a less-healthy-but just-as-delicious option: the steaming stack of organic pancakes drizzled with warm maple syrup, which is what I (and my girls) choose for our Sunday-morning visit. Breakfast is my daughters’ favorite meal, so I was happy to learn that it was served all day. Both breakfast and lunch dishes are prepared by head chef Mike Webb, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy.
|Fair Trade Coffee|
We arrive just as the restaurant is opening, at 9 a.m., and eat indoors, in the restaurant’s quaint dining room. We take the spot near the front windows, with a large coffee table and wing-back chairs. We eat hungrily, licking our fingers clean, and then move outdoors to the play yard. I finish my Java Planet coffee—“the only organic, Fair Trade roaster in the Tampa Bay area”—and watch as my girls dance through the bubbles emitting from a bubble machine, move on to play with sidewalk chalk, and then play pretend (“mommy and baby”) in the playhouse, which is a replica of the restaurant. They are happy: I hear them giggling as they dart around under the large canopies of the oak trees, and I am free to relax.
As I sip my coffee, I chat with Danielle, who tells me that the restaurant is the recipient of the Green America People & Planet Green Business Award, which “recognizes businesses for their dedication to a green economy.” So Danielle can now use the money from the award to add a full-fledged garden to her 1,600-square-foot, North American Butterfly Association (NABA)-certified butterfly habitat. She also invites me to come to one of their weekly events, like the child CPR class or family yoga class. I tell her that, regrettably, I can’t go because I have to work. But I appreciate that Sweet Peas both supports and enriches the community by hosting events that appeal to new moms (like breastfeeding workshops), parents devoted to healthy living (organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO foods), and families attending local schools (like the nearby Waldorf school).
I excuse myself to go to the restroom, and Danielle offers to keep an eye on my girls until I get back. I’m happy to find that there is indeed a changing table— a changing pad atop a dresser— which I find home-like, comforting. When I get back, I tell her that I will leave her alone, that she is free to get back to her customers. I take a deep breath and savor the calm and the respite from the heat. This is a good start to my morning: I will leave refreshed, which (hopefully) means I will be more patient with my kids for the rest of the day, which, I know, is what they deserve, and they are doing what they do best: play. In fact, when I perused Sweet Peas’ website the night before, I saw that its slogan was “Eat, Play, Love.” And for me and my girls, that’s as it should be when you go out to eat as a family, and for us, on this lazy Sunday, that’s just what we’re doing.