New Merritt Island café is all about fresh food and fun

Mother Pucker’s offers breakfast, lunch staples with vegan, vegetarian, gluten free options

Sign outside of Mother Pucker's café on Merritt Island
Sign outside of Mother Pucker's café on Merritt Island (Suzy Fleming Leonard/FLORIDA TODAY)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Before we get started, let’s address the giant lemon in the room:

Debora Speer knows the name of her new Merritt Island cafe might raise a few eyebrows. She’s even had a woman drive there and come inside for the sole purpose of expressing her distaste, according to News 6 partners Florida Today.

Speer knows Mother Pucker’s might not appeal to everyone.

“I know it’s controversial,” she said. “But life is short, and we’re all about having fun in here.”

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Learn the name’s origin, and it makes sense. Speer’s husband, Scott, is planting a lemon and lime orchard at their home on north Merritt Island. He started calling her Mother Pucker around the house. They thought the name would be fun for the cafe.

Now, let’s get to back to business.

Mother Pucker’s, which opened about two months ago on South Tropical Trail, just off the Merritt Island Causeway, is a bright, eclectic place with pet-friendly outdoor seating and a menu of fresh, uncomplicated food served for breakfast and lunch.

Speer owned a cafe in Niagara Falls, New York. When she moved to Florida about six years ago, she swore she’d never open another one because it was too hard.

She couldn’t resist. The space formerly occupied by BoriMami Bakery became available. Merritt Island has so many chain restaurants and diners. She wanted to bring something different to the community.

The menu includes smoothies, flatbreads, quesadillas, sandwiches and salads. For breakfast, there’s avocado toast, as well as a breakfast wrap, waffles, eggs, bacon, fruit and yogurt.

Most items on the menu can be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

Speer said she buys fresh provisions for the cafe daily.

“I don’t own a can opener,” she said.

Dining with your favorite sidekick? The menu has kids section, as well as offerings for pups.

“I’m very dog-friendly,” she said. “If I could just have people drop off their dogs and get food to go, then come back to get their dog …”

When the cafe is slow, Speer can be found hanging out with customers, sipping a cold beverage. She does all the cooking, bouncing back into the kitchen when orders come in.

“Sometimes, things get backed up in the kitchen, so people have to be patient,” she said.

She takes pride in each dish she prepares, but she hopes people will see Mother Pucker’s as more than just a place for food. She’s hoping to build a community.

She enlisted the help of local artist Jennifer Gallo, who painted an adorably plump, cheerful lemon with puckered lips on the wall of the building, and has since added loads of artful touches to the patio and indoor dining space.

The patio features a lending library and a place to drop off and pick up egg crates.

Got cuttings from a plant you’d like to share? Leave them.

Do you think you can revive that droopy ficus someone took to death’s door and then discarded? Take it home.

“Next to that is a tiny art gallery, where people can leave a little piece of art or take a piece,” she said.

Speer recently added a piano to the patio, and guests are encouraged to play — if they know how, with the admonition to “judge your audience when playing.”

She hosts an open-air market from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month, featuring handmade and upcycled items.

Speer is having a good time getting to know her customers and growing her business.

She hopes people will get the humor in the cafe’s name, but, honestly, those who don’t aren’t really her target audience.

“I want you to come in here and have fun,” she said. “We are who we are, and people seem to like it.”

Mother Pucker’s Cafe is at 125 S. Tropical Trail, Merritt Island. Call 321-848-0062 or visit facebook.com/motherpuckerscafe. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.