When I moved to Virginia’s Historic Triangle, Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters and Petite Cafe quickly became one of my favorite places. It was love at first sight, really. The historic Cole Digges House with the blue door and shutters was a charmer! I spent about five minutes outside taking pictures of the adorable coffee shop before I even stepped foot inside—I had to share this place on Instagram, after all.
The quaint shop in Historic Yorktown may be best known for its fantastic coffee and wide selection of Harney & Sons Tea, but it’s the Petite Cafe that truly makes this place unique. It not only offers delicious biscotti, cookies, and muffins to pair with your hot drink, but also sandwiches, dips, and pies that will have you coming back for more.
When COVID-19 impacted the country in spring of 2020, many businesses were forced to close their doors. Mobjack found a way to keep serving the community, by allowing people to order from outside, at their “Ye Olde Shoppe Plexiglass Window.” Around that time, the owner also hired Chef Mary Beth Ammons, who quickly got to work in the kitchen, creating a dozen new menu items! And it turned out, her experience paired perfectly with Assistant Manager Justin Smith’s passion for providing a wider selection of gluten-free and vegan options to visitors.
“It’s very important to me that everyone feels welcomed and accommodated,” Justin said. “I think that people with dietary restrictions are often forgotten about because, in comparison, there really isn’t a huge market for gluten-free items. With my training in allergy-free cooking, I’m able to help us provide options so that people of all diets can eat here at Mobjack.”
Originally from Rome, Georgia, Mary loves having an outlet for southern delicacies. “The emphasis on simple recipes and fresh, seasonal vegetables and southern flavor combinations all stem either from my family’s recipes or my work experience,” Mary told me. “This is also why I try to be inclusive to gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarians when recipe building; everyone at the table should have something delicious to eat.”
The multi-talented Mary originally studied Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but realized she wasn’t suited to a desk job. From there she started working at a high-end contemporary southern catering company called The Season Events in her hometown. While there, she also worked at the Wildflower Cafe in Mentone, Alabama. After about three years, she moved here to Virginia where she started working as an apprentice with the Virginia Chef’s Association. “I’ve been hosted by the Williamsburg Lodge where I had the opportunity to study in their large-scale bakeshop and also at the Williamsburg Inn, where I mostly focused on the butcher shop and the line (this is where dinner for the Rockefeller Room and the Terrace Room both come from),” Mary said. “I’ve also been studying Culinary Arts at Reynold’s in Richmond.”
Mary’s not one to sit still, so when COVID struck and Colonial Williamsburg temporarily closed the Inn and restaurants, she jumped on the opportunity to join the Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters team. “Mary has been wonderful since the day she started working here,” Justin told me. “She is passionate, fun, and takes great pride in her work. She also has tons of knowledge and experience in the field, which is extremely helpful on a daily basis.”
When Justin joined Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters in September of 2019, he couldn’t wait to get creative and expand the menu. He also enjoys pairing food with their coffee. “Mary is great to work with because we can combine our expertise,” Justin told me. “Mary came up with our Vegan Bread Pudding and our Chocolate Buttermilk Pie that I really think are delicious, and I realized that she also naturally tries to pair her creative ideas with our coffees.”
When I met Justin and Mary, I had the opportunity to taste most of the new menu items (I wanted to scarf down every single thing, but a girl can only eat so much in one sitting), and I can tell you with complete honesty, everything is absolutely delicious! I’ve always loved the idea of appetizer-size dishes, because you get to try many different foods. It’s truly hard to pick a favorite, but if I were in the mood for brunch, I’d feast on the Loaded Tomato Pie. For lunch I might start with the Spinach Artichoke Dip and then enjoy the Capstan Pimiento Beer Cheese Sandwich. Dessert is tied between the Buttermilk Chocolate Pie and Vegan Bread Pudding.
Justin and Mary get the best of Mobjack all of the time, so I wondered about their favorites. “You really can’t go wrong with the new Caprese sandwich,” Justin said. “The Spinach Artichoke Dip and the Loaded Tomato Pie are also two of my favorites. For drinks, you can never go wrong at Mobjack with a black cup of coffee. The coffee here has absolutely changed my opinions on coffee.”
What does Mary crave most? “My favorite thing to eat is a toss-up between the Spinach Artichoke Dip and the Buttermilk Chocolate Pie. I also love the variety of teas, especially the Tower of London made with steamed milk. I jokingly dubbed it my ‘lattea’.”
Both Justin and Mary clearly love their jobs, and they’re passionate about providing a wonderful experience for customers. Owner Celeste Gucunac can attest to that. "These two are dedicated, talented, and creative. We are thrilled to have them as a part of our team at Mobjack."
The talented pair is also thrilled to be working in Historic Yorktown. “It’s truly idyllic here,” Mary said. “Even on busy days, it’s calming to look out the window and appreciate the architecture and landscape.” Justin told me Historic Yorktown has become one of his favorite places in the world! “It’s so relaxing to walk around the village and listen to the birds singing, and I love that you can find cannonballs still lodged in some of the buildings. However, my absolute favorite thing about Yorktown is that it’s home to the best coffee ever!” The best coffee and the best petite cafe menu. Mobjack is open seven days a week (Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), so stop in soon for a taste of something wonderful.
New Menu Items - Call 757.872.3020 to order or visit website
Petite Quiche (daily special) (GF)
Spinach Artichoke Dip (GF*, VG)
Capstan Pimiento Beer Cheese Dip
Dayspring Farm Cucumber Salad (Cucumbers, Black Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion, Baby Corn, Mozzarella Pearls, Basil) (VG, V*, GF)
Tomato Pie (classic (VG) or loaded with chicken and bacon)
Caprese Sandwich (Creamy Tapenade, thick sliced farm fresh Heirloom Tomatoes, thick sliced fresh mozzarella, salami (optional), fresh picked basil) (GF*, VG*)
Capstan Pimiento Beer Cheese Sandwich (with Edward’s Virginia Ham and Apricot Preserves) (VG*)
Vegan Bread Pudding (dark chocolate peanut butter, dark chocolate cherry, or spiced stone fruit) (V)
Buttermilk Chocolate Pie (with house whipped cream and a strawberry) (VG)
Mobjack Fresh Fruit Tart (almond custard with fresh fruit) (VG)
Mobjack Ice Cream Sandwich (chocolate, vanilla, or mint chocolate chip) (VG)
GF: Gluten Free; VG: Vegetarian; V: Vegan
GF*/V*/VG*: special diet available