MOMO’s Café is located on the first floor of a large office building in Oyster Point. Since it faces the inside parking lot and not a busy street, it isn’t visible. And, there are also no directional signs. However, the café is definitely worth seeking out. And from those who have eaten at MOMO’s Café, the sweet smell of success is recognized.
Martha Bennett, owner, is a trained chef. She grew up in Virginia Beach, graduating with honors from Johnson and Wales University in 1993 and later that year, opened her own deli/bakery and catering business in Virginia Beach. In 1997, she moved to the Peninsula and worked for Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg Golf Clubhouse restaurants and Museum Restaurant, Williamsburg Lodge and Kingsmill Resort. “I have fed two United States presidents and many heads of state. I also served as the private chef to Mr. August Busch,” she says.
Bennett brings all that experience to MOMO’s, where she offers homemade food that is original and fresh. Pre-pandemic, she operated the cafeteria at Jefferson Lab, where she has three employees. “For many months the Lab’s employees worked offsite virtually. But we are returning to normal,” she says.
Bennett has provided personal chef service (delivered) and catering since 2008. “I like being my own boss and having the opportunity to cultivate my craft,” she says. “It’s a labor of love but I was ready to leave the corporate world,” she adds. “I like being in control so that I can offer a quality experience to every customer.”
MOMO’s Café, in operation for 10 years, with three employees, offers sit-down and takeout service. MOMO is a nickname her family gave her. The café is small with a few eclectic tables. Nothing matches and there are many antiques. “Some items belonged to my grandmother,” Bennett says. Some pieces are for sale. There is a children’s table that Bennett used as a child herself. One corner has her “office,” a large desk. Another has a rack of homemade aprons for sale, all made by Bennett. There is handmade jewelry, pillows and paintings (other people’s crafts). Bennett likes to sew and makes many items, including dresses and draperies. A glass showcase in the rear exhibits food selections. The homemade desserts look especially tempting.
Bennett has published a cookbook of her recipes. “I am inspired by other cookbooks but mostly create my own recipes,” she says. Most popular foods sold are potato salad, onion or bacon jam, pasta salad, chocolate peanut bars and lemon butter cake. “My grandmother’s recipe for sweet onion vinaigrette is a favorite,” she says. Her daughter and mother also cook. “If anything is left over, I take it home,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
A different menu is offered each week. There are new items; others are offered in rotation. Selections can be seen online. “Fortunately, my clientele is adventuresome,” she says. She cooks for about 30 families each week. There are retired people, singles — male and female. “My food is delivered fresh, never frozen,” she adds. Her delivery area ranges from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach. “I cook in the morning and deliver in the afternoon. I find the drive to deliver relaxing. I’m the ‘Food Fairy,’” she says with pride.
In addition to her daughter, Bennett has “lots of nieces and nephews.” How does she relax? “I enjoy swimming when I can find the time. It clears my mind,” she says. “I do love traveling, especially to the west coast of Florida. I would like to see Alaska and Japan and I could eat my way through Italy.”
What is her favorite food? “Shrimp and grits, probably,” she replies. “And I like to go crabbing.”
Bennett says she opened her personal chef business to meet the demands of the busy American lifestyle. Her mission is to bring good, homemade food to families who want quality ingredients and family time at the dinner table.
TO THE POINT:
Address: 11801 Canon Blvd., Ste. 102, Newport News VA 23606
Owner: Martha Bennett
Business: Café, catering, meal delivery