Mocatinas Opens with Owners Looking Forward to More Customer Interaction

Monica Pindell had toiled for months transforming the former Public Defender’s Office at 3 E. Market St. in downtown Leesburg into the interactive dessert café of her dreams. Her Mocatinas shop was all set for a late March debut, when a worldwide pandemic put those plans on ice.

Pindell had spent 25 years in the corporate world when she decided to step away to “follow my instincts and my dream.” With the support of her husband and silent partner Kevin, the plans for Mocatinas took shape after a year and a half of research and planning, bringing to the table her vast experience in the retail industry.

“Basically, from many years of being in the industry, in the retail arena in specialty, I realized that there is a challenge for brick and mortar [shops],” she said. “It needed to be kind of reinvented and customers are looking for experiences. When putting together the interactive café that was the whole focus. When you go to Mocatina’s you’re getting the whole experience.”

And that experience doesn’t begin and end with a delectable pastry or other tasty treats available on the dessert café’s menu, with a coffee or espresso beverage to wash it down. Pindell plans to offer a gift shop full of brands from New York, California, Canada and more—items that aren’t generally carried locally. 

Courtesy of Monica Pindell

“I’m offering things you don’t see in the store next door,” she said.

In addition to the shop and dessert café, the upstairs room in the ample 3,000-square-foot space will offer the opportunity for classes, workshops and events, like cookie decorating classes, winery events, pop-up shops and more.

“The place itself plays for so many events that we can do and a lot of experiences for the community. That’s basically what an interactive dessert cafe is—drop the kids off to a workshop, go downstairs, have a coffee and shop and spend the afternoon,” Pindell said. “It’s basically a gift shop, cafe, and event venue all in one.”

Menu offerings, though not yet finalized, will include everything from higher-end, specialty pastries, to chocolates from The Perfect Truffle in Frederick, MD, coffees, espresso drinks, lattes, dried teas and milkshakes, among others. Although she was sad to have to make the decision to postpone Mocatinas opening, Pindell said she is using the extra time she has to perfect her menu, as the space itself is renovated and ready to go. She’s optimistic that once social distancing restrictions are relaxed and it is safe to open, the public will be craving that experience, and want to patronize local businesses.

“I have to take it one day at a time and stay as positive as I can. It will work its way out, we will be fine. Mocatinas is ready, the doors are ready to open,” she said. “This gives us something to look forward to.”

This week, the shop has begun doing curbside pickup of its gift shop items, available for viewing on the mocatinas.com website. Pindell is also hoping to soon launch curbside or window pickups for the cafe’s ice cream, pastries, and coffee. Updates will be posted on the shop’s website, along with its Facebook and Instagram pages.

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