Music, books and caffeine combine at a hideaway in Dania Beach

Walk into My Mama’s Books Records & Cafe and you’re greeted immediately by the delicious aroma of baked goods and freshly brewed coffee. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is nothing like your standard coffee chain. This is My Mama’s.

“If there were a modern day spin-off of Friends, their local coffee shop would be My Mama’s.” says university student Nathan Romero, 24. “The cozy ambiance makes you never want to leave. I come to do homework and if I need a break I either look through their bins of records or just pick up a book and start reading.” 

Romero found My Mama’s on a first date. “I wanted to impress this girl and take her somewhere neither of us have been to before, and it was a success. We came on an open mic night and I have been coming back ever since.”

This hole in the wall at 218 E Dania Beach Blvd. has all the components that will keep you coming back. As soon as you walk through the door, you’re greeted with neon signs, Instagram-able nooks, a retro vibe, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

In addition to the ambiance, there are bins filled with records on sale that can range from $1-$15 and walls of shelving crammed with books. You can spend hours looking through their wide collection and find gems.

The owner is Julia Harrison, the mother of this perfect trifecta. It’s not a business idea that came to her in her sleep. She attributes her success to her family, which inspired the creation of My Mama’s Café.

My Mama’s records.  (Valeria Ulmos/SFMN)

“My father was always political and a fine man who did well for himself, and aside from that he had a love for literature and passed down his love to me,” said Harrison.

“He had his very own library at home and shared his favorite pieces with me. We always talked about coming together and opening our very own book store.”

Harrison had her own love, but for music. She had a record collection and it kept growing as she got older and the records were then added to the mix. “I wanted to combine the two things I cannot live without, and share it.”

Harrison also sought to to unite the community and create a space where people could gather. 

Although Harrison strives for vintage prodcuts, My Mama’s has both new and antique items for sale. Along with their collection of vintage vinyl albums like Miles Davis and Led Zeppelin, you may also find The Weeknd’s new album.

Maria Montosio, a My Mama’s employee, says nothing makes the café more welcoming than the eclectic clientele. 

“We have students that come in to study, band members that come to practice, poets and people that come in with their own book and chill out with a cup of coffee,” says Montosio 

My Mama’s has become a community for poets and aspiring local artists by hosting open mic nights.

“We have a whole range of different types of people who have made this their safe space and we always have room for more.”

“Nothing feels like home like a home away from home,” says local and regular customer Marissa Jimenez, 25, who discovered Mama’s on her way home from the beach in an emergency search for a bathroom. “This has become my sanctuary and is now the only place I can actually study,” Jimenez said. 

“I ended up browsing around the store and the rest is history,” said Jimenez. 

Valeria Ulmos is a Junior at FIU majoring in broadcasting and communications. She hopes to pursue her career in having her own talk show in entertainment and is a women activist. She is a bilingual podcaster and likes covering entertainment and world trends.