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From Sadness to Hope: How a Mother-Daughter Team Turned a Tragedy Into an Uplifting and Safe Space

By Elisha Neubauer

Pencil Café has a unique beginning... one that stems from sorrow and tragedy, but ends with hope, remembrance, and an uplifting message. The small, locally owned café was launched shortly after the passing of a direct family member as a way for the family to commemorate, remember, and honor their lost relative.

According to Janice, co-founder/creator of Pencil Café, the eatery was opened as a safe space for artists and students. "The inspiration for opening the cafe came from the dream to have a space where my mom and I could commemorate my brother (who passed away in 2005) by having his art works on the walls and to have a safe haven for students and creative types," she tells us.

The name, while obviously being art related, actually stems from the username Janice's brother frequently used to identify himself. "It was the perfect symbol to represent all the possibilities of creating something great from something very humble, too," she said.

The atmosphere of the small café was designed with creative types in mind, in order to pay homage to their beloved relative. The eatery projects a warmth filled with creativity, comfort, and positivity. While the ambiance is tailored to those of the creative mindset, it is an all-inclusive space, leaving no one behind. "We have customers of the whole spectrum?from students to lawyers & doctors, office workers, neighborhood locals to Pasadena moms," explains Janice. "Everyone is welcome to enjoy a sandwich made with love at Pencil."

Another facet of this interesting business is that it is owned and operated solely by a mother-daughter team, a rare feat in the business world. While this allows for a certain level of comfort that just oozes from within the walls, obviously it comes with its own challenges. Janice is the first to admit these difficulties.

She states that working with family isn't always easy as there is no true definition between work and personal life; however, she's extremely proud of Pencil, as mother-daughter businesses are rare in today's age. "My mom and I are fortunate to have a really strong relationship and have overcome many difficult times together," she announces.

Regardless of whether you're visiting Pencil for the ambiance, the back-story, or just to grab a bite and hang out, you're bound to be pleased with their eclectic menu. With specialty drinks like Sparkling Blackberry Vinegar, Iced Green Genmaicha Tea, and the Sunrise Smoothie along with unique foods like Egg Salad Sandwiches with fresh Basil or Tofu Salad, you're bound to find something to please your taste buds as well.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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