Cafe Ezra: A Family Valentine’s Day Tradition


Family Valentine's Day

Our family runs a restaurant. Mind you, we are only open one night per year, and can only accommodate one table per night.

We’re highly exclusive. 

We admit guests on an invitation-only basis, and we haven’t quite nailed down a cohesive vision for our cuisine.  We might offer Chinese takeout from another food establishment, or perhaps ready-made ravioli with canned marinara sauce. But no matter!

The plating on our finest china, served by the most courteous and well dressed-ten-year-old you’ve ever seen, is sure to win you over. Once all of our guests are served, they will be expected to make room at the table for our chef and waiter. They may sacrifice elbow room, but we make up for that with quality conversation and contagious laughter.

Welcome to Cafe Ezra. 

Family Valentine’s Day Tradition

My husband and son opened their “restaurant” for the very first time on Valentine’s Day 2017.

My daughters (ages eight and three at the time) and I came home after running errands. Our formidable hosts invited us to enter the front door. My (then seven-year-old) son, bedecked in a bow tie and crisp button-down shirt, greeted us at the door and offered me his arm. He escorted his sisters and me to the dining table, which was adorned with candles and flowers. He and his father proceeded to serve us take-out fried rice, sesame chicken, and egg rolls. They kept our water glasses full, took our empty plates, and brought cupcakes out to finish up the evening.

All three of my kids’ faces were beaming. My son delighted in working with his dad to plan and execute a wonderful evening of surprises for his sisters and mom. My daughters were utterly spoiled by their dad and brother and felt truly special. And my husband and I marveled with gratitude for each other and our sweet kids.  

Cafe Ezra has opened and served Valentine’s Day dinner two more times since 2017. Each year, it has expanded a bit. In 2018, we invited my sister-in-law and a neighbor to join in. Last year, two unattached 20-something ladies from our church joined us, and my son and husband did the cooking themselves, complete with an amazing, made-from-scratch dessert.

I love seeing my kids embracing a vision of Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show each other and our friend’s genuine love and care.

We are all looking forward to Cafe Ezra 2020!

Our chef and server are carefully considering who to spoil at our table and all of our hearts are preparing to celebrate our love for each other and our guests this Valentine’s Day. Family life is busy and it takes time and energy to prioritize traditions like this. But the memories and the joy are worth it.

Does your family have any Family Valentine’s Day traditions?  

Family Valentine

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Erika Stevenson grew up in San Antonio, Texas but has made her home in Des Moines for 15 years. She and her husband, Darin have been married for 14 years and live in a turn-of-the-century home in the heart of Des Moines where they raise Lucy (10), Collin (9) and Nora (4). Erika first became a mom to Lucy in an open domestic adoption and eventually gave birth to Collin and Nora. When she's not busy with home-school lessons, laundry and meal-planning, she loves to sew, knit, and read.



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