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New Owners Of Jamaica Plain's Ula Café Paying It Forward In Community

JAMAICA PLAIN (CBS) – When three friends heard their favorite café was up for sale, they wanted it to remain a pillar in the community. So they bought it.

Beth Santos, Marvin Mathelier and Kelly Fernandes are the co-owners of Ula Café in Jamaica Plain.

"My husband and I were thinking about getting involved in the neighborhood. We noticed that Ula was up for sale and it was always a dream of ours to own a café," Santos said.

Santos and Mathelier teamed with Fernandes, who is a trained chef.

"I remember being a customer prior to COVID and being able to sit here, meet with people," Mathelier said.

"I'm happy. I'm genuinely happy that we are able to cook really good food, bring people together and serve really good beverages and do other things in the community," Fernandes added.

Now, the café has an old-time coffee house feel. There are local paintings on the wall, they have open mic nights.

It's more of a meeting place for people in the community to come in and talk about what's going on.

"It's crazy how a simple cup of coffee, sitting down with a friend or even a stranger that becomes a friend, just can impact our lives in a positive way," Fernandes said.

ULA Cafe also has a "pay it forward" wall that is a way of making sure no one leaves hungry or thirsty. People can pay for an item, leave a note on the wall for what is available, and have a future customer in need redeem it.

"We've had people come in and they didn't know about our pay it forward wall and they said, 'Hey my electricity got turned off. I just want to grab something to eat, have $5, what can I buy?' And our staff would say, 'Keep your money, you can just pull something off the wall,'" Santos said.

Mathelier said customers are eager to help out fellow members of the community.

"There are a lot of people that want to come here and help out. That's why the pay it forward wall is amazing, because people are trying to find ways where they can give back," he said.

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