Ainsley Tsokos’ idea for Cream Parlor came to her in a dream. She scribbled on a piece of paper the blueprint for her shop — the name, concept, and tag line — and presented it to her husband, Johnny. The two had been talking about owning something of their own for the past decade, and on August 15, the doors to Cream Parlor opened at 8224 Biscayne Blvd., just north of the up-and-coming MiMo District.
Nestled between a chiropractor's office and a scooter repair shop, the small retro café gives Miamians a vast menu that offers anything from decadent cheese and charcuterie plates to salads, panini, wraps, ice cream, coffee, and tea. Your cafecito won't be served in a cardboard cup unless you want it to go. Behind the counter is a selection of vintage china to serve patrons like true house guests.
“We took those ideas and developed them in a way we knew was going to make sense for our dream and the community,” Johnny Tsokos says. “We live across the street, and we love this neighborhood. We gave it an old-school vibe. This is literally what you’ll see in our home."
“This is an extension of being there, and we want our guests to feel welcomed,” Ainsley Tsokos adds.
The small shop is filled with the couple's personal items, such as Ainsley’s Girl Guides sash, layered with patches (the Canadian version of Girl Scouts). Johnny’s writing desk doubles as one of the eatery's dining tables.
Two church pews provide other seating. A back patio features a fledgling herb garden. Plans for DJ sets and barbecues are in the works as soon as a liquor license is approved in the weeks to come.
“Having this place open for the last few days is so good,” Ainsley says through tears.
“We have worked so hard to get to where we are. We have our guts and money from our own pocket,” Johnny adds. “Nothing has been handed to us.”
The two cut their teeth working in a family food business and bring their love of cooking and experience from their previous gourmet shop, Bread & Tulips, to Cream. Johnny also worked at the family butcher shop in his native New York.
The idea for Cream Parlor is to mix nostalgia with tasty comfort food in a relaxed environment where people with all kinds of diets and budgets can mingle.
The menu caters to vegetarian, dairy-free, vegan, and protein-based diets, and prices ranges from $2 to $23. Sandwiches include prosciutto, arugula, goat cheese, and fruit preserves on Zak the Baker bread ($9.50) and a peanut butter and banana panini drizzled with honey ($6.95).
As the name implies, there's also a good selection of ice cream and desserts, including the Prince-inspired Purple Rain flavor.
The couple says they are excited to see who else will join them in the neighborhood and can’t wait to meet their soon-to-be regulars. For Ainsley, the dream was worth the wait.
“Anything good takes work and time, and finally opening Cream Parlor makes it that much sweeter.”
Cream Parlor is open seven days a week with tentative hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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