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Heartwarming Restaurant News: The Mug N' Muffin is Still Around and Thriving in Norwood, Massachusetts

Mug 'n Muffin restaurant, Norwood MA
The Mug 'n Muffin restaurant in Norwood, Massachusetts.

by Eric Hurwitz. Updated 12/07/16.

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It was an early Monday morning, the day after several hundred people enjoyed breakfast during the weekend at the Mug ‘n Muffin in Norwood center. A kitchen employee called in sick, so owner Dave Monaghan, without hesitation, took helm as the sole kitchen worker turning out one dish after another on a recognized restaurant industry “off day” that, nevertheless, still brought in the crowds.

While cooking at a furious pace, at times, Monaghan remained calm and amiable, talking to this reporter who had many questions, conversing with the waitresses (which includes his wife, Sheila Monaghan), mixing it up with the regular customers (“Hey, Barbara, don’t make it tough on me, what do you want?”) and taking the time to thank out-of-towners for visiting his restaurant.
 
“Thank-you so much for the great service. We loved it here,” said one of the customers from Virginia who traveled to New England to attend a weekend wedding.

Dave and Sheila briefly chatted with the visitors and conveyed, with the utmost sincerity, their gratitude.  Soon, however, they returned to work as pros who have been at the Mug ‘n Muffin so long that they frequently see kids eventually return as adults who now have their own children.

The friendships built, the love for community, and working a job that he enjoys greatly has kept Dave running the Mug ‘n Muffin -- affectionately known as “The Mug” -- even long after the restaurant was considered gone forever after a franchise closure.
 
“I love it,” said Dave, 65, of his Norwood breakfast and lunch spot. “I meet people, open the kitchen and know maybe 85 percent of the people -- not always by name, but also what they order.”

Dave and Sheila Monaghan, of the Mug 'n Muffin restaurant in Norwood MA
Dave and Sheila Monaghan, of the Mug 'n Muffin in Norwood.

The Mug ‘N Muffin in Norwood stands as the last Mug ‘n Muffin, once a thriving 1970s and 1980s Massachusetts-based franchise until its closure in 1991. Along with the Pewter Pot -- a local competitor -- the two restaurants became household names in Massachusetts for their great coffee and muffins, and slice of old-fashioned Americana vibe with colonial-style post and beam design, period wall lights and dimly-lit candle fixtures, flowery wallpaper design, red brick walls around the kitchen area, long carpeted dining rooms with old wood accents and furnishings, hanging plants, and an American flag proudly perched on a wall.

Mug 'N Muffin, Norwood MA
Sheila takes an order from regulars at the Mug 'n Muffin in Norwood.

Dave, who went to work for the restaurant chain in 1971 -- not too long after graduating Braintree High School in Braintree -- eventually purchased the 716 Washington St., Norwood location in 1986 after working many years as the chain supervisor. Not much has changed since then, thankfully, as the Mug ‘n Muffin’s recipe for success remains popular with lunch and breakfast crowd-pleasers like muffins (blueberry, corn, carrot, apple and cinnamon, and chocolate chip), coffee, eggs, pancakes, bacon, skillet specials, banana French Toast, marinated sirloin tips (with eggs, toast and home fries), burgers, sandwiches and wraps, and homemade soups.  The traditional “Early Bird Specials” are served Monday through Friday, 6-9 a.m., with prices ranging from $4.99-$5.99.

Corned Beef Hash breakfast at the Mug N' Muffin, Norwood, massachusetts
Corned beef hash breakfast at the Mug 'n Muffin in Norwood.

“We do have some new items, though, like cinnamon swirl French toast and homemade corned beef hash,” said Dave. “But we haven’t changed too much. People love the bacon, eggs, pancakes!”

“It’s all about the friends, the community,” added Sheila. “And Dave does a lot for the town, he just doesn’t want people to know about it.  The prices are good, the food comes out fast, and we have great people working here. Dave is good to everyone here.”

Sheila added, “When people come in and ask what’s good, I say ‘everything!’”

Dave works about 60 hours a week and plans on continuing that way at least for another five years. He credits his brother Bruce, many of the long-time waitstaff (Sheila was there from the start, and Jane and Joanne have worked at “The Mug” for many years), and newer employees that include some well-chosen younger men and women as helping make the Mug ‘n Muffin a perennial hometown favorite. Customers usually come from within a three-mile radius of the restaurant, thus further confirming Norwood’s allegiance to locally-owned businesses.

“Norwood is a great place, and that is why we moved here 20 years ago,” concluded Monaghan. “When someone is in crisis or in need, the people in town here come through. It is just great doing business here and being part of that community.”

Mug 'n Muffin, 716 Washington St., Norwood, MA. Tel. (781) 762-8927.

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