Why: You need a place to hang out while your motorcycle is being fixed. You need a place to hang out even though you’ve never ridden a motorcycle and have no plans to. Madhouse Cafe is a cozy, stylish space with ochre walls, rich textiles, and Levantine art. There are plants hanging from the ceiling, bountiful outlets for charging devices, and books on motorcycles and art to thumb through while you sip your latte. A big glass window at the back offers a view into the motorcycle shop.
The backstory: J. Shia, artist and owner of Boston’s only motorcycle shop, moved her business to a new location on Blue Hill Avenue mid-pandemic. The space had a “weird jog-out” that seemed like an ideal spot for a cafe. “I think it’s the only coffeeshop in the area,” Shia says. “I thought it would be a place for customers waiting for an oil change, but 90 percent of the people coming in want a cup of coffee before work.” Shia, who had no previous experience in foodservice, figured out the business by doing reconnaissance at cafes around town, observing everything from what people bought to which direction they went after entering. The cafe and motorcycle shop are both named after her childhood home in Cambridge — “a little bit worn in, kind of entertaining” — which is affectionately referred to as The Madhouse by friends and family. (The yard there was also home to Shia’s first motorcycle repair business, started when she was a teenager.)
What to eat: Baklava! Shia is Lebanese, and her mother makes the delicious phyllo-based pastry, which is fresher, lighter, and flakier than many versions. The shop also offers scones, croissants, vegan treats, and other cafe fare.
What to drink: Your favorite hot and cold drinks are here — cappuccino, chai lattes, hot chocolate. The tahini latte, a house specialty, is the perfect accompaniment to the baklava.
The takeaway: The staff and vibe are welcoming, Rihanna is singing about “Love on the Brain” in the background, and you can buy a Madhouse Motors onesie for your favorite baby. Madhouse Cafe brings something new and needed to this stretch of Blue Hill Avenue.
24 Blue Hill Ave., Roxbury, www.madhousecafe.com