German street is an integral part of Shepherdstown. Residents, students and visitors alike often
stroll down there to shop, eat and gather for events. There are several restaurants on German
street each with their own unique atmosphere and cuisine.
Kome is authentic Thai and sushi bistro. A few doors down the festive Maria’s serves some classic and some non-traditionalMexican dishes. The Green Pineapple takes a modern twist on Korean cuisine and the wacky,
eclectic Lost Dog serves some unusual, but delicious coffee beverages.
The Shepherdstown Sweet Shop has a warm environment and fresh baked goods making it a popular study spot for Shepherd University college students. Shepherd University student Abbi Lewis said, “I usually
go to the sweet shop bakery on Fridays with a group of friends to get a coffee and pastry. We bring our laptops and study and work on assignments while we eat.”
And as of Aug. 11, German Street welcomed the new addition of MJs on German Deli Café.
Husband and wife Chef Jordan Gainer and Melissa Vitari are the owners of MJs and a happy family of seven with their five children. They both worked in the hospitality business for 20 years where they realized they loved serving others.
When a space opened on German street, they leapt at the opportunity to open their own eatery. Chef Jordan’s Grandmother owned her own restaurant in Helvetia, West Virginia, which he gained inspiration from for his own business.
MJ’s is a small deli café that serves artisan breakfast and lunch sandwiches. They also have bagels, smoothies, juices and freshly brewed coffee. They have partnered with other local shops and businesses to provide fresh, delicious food made with a lot of love and care.
Shepherd’s women soccer team member Aly Nazarok said, “I really enjoyed the food, I thought it was extremely good quality.”
Bolivar Bread Bakery and Black Dog Coffee are two of the local businesses that MJs is working with to create their high-quality food while supporting the local economy.
They serve many classic sandwiches and salads, but what makes them stand out is their quality
ingredients and the time and care that goes into making each one.
The freshly baked bread, and special dressings elevate their sandwiches, turning something simple into something delectable.
Karli Hepner, a Shepherd University student and athlete, said “The sandwich I got was so good, I
really enjoyed it.”
There are also a variety of drink options. Some are simple like sweet tea and lemonade, and some are more unique like the Trail Tea and OG Skinny Monkey smoothie.
Krystian Hammaker, a Shepherdstown local resident, said they have “unique drinks with a wide variety of options.”
Just like the rest of German Streets eateries, MJs has a special atmosphere and distinctive décor. The owners and employees at MJs are passionate about the eatery and the community they are trying to build. That love and passion fills the space creating a warm and welcoming environment.
Chef Jordan describes the atmosphere as “laid-back” and “a fun hangout.”
As soon as you walk in the door someone asks how you are doing and the smell of freshly
brewed coffee and bread wafts through the air. The walls are a bright yellow mirroring the
happiness and warmth of the staff while paying homage to his grandmother’s restaurant.
Signs, photos and antiques from local antique stores scatter the walls and there is plenty of seating to
accommodate customers. The back brick wall is covered with antique culinary instruments
which Chef Jordan said is his “contribution of work.” His wife and co-owner, Melissa, is
primarily responsible for the cohesive decor.
While the inside of MJ’s is beautiful, out back is the owner’s favorite spot. There are trees and foliage covering the area in color and you can hear the trickling water of the stream running through it. Just as inside, there are several tables and seating areas out back that provide a peaceful dining experience. The warm wood accents, brick walls, antiques and the foliage reflect a farmhouse aesthetic that is inviting.
Krystian Hammaker said, “the atmosphere was very homey and cozy, it is a great place to hang
out along with eating.”
Many of the German Street eateries and coffee joints have become popular among the Shepherd
University students as both a studying spot and a fun night out on the town with friends.
Meghan Byers, a former Shepherd student, said, “I remember going down to German street to find a place
to study and get a coffee or for a nice dinner with my friends after a long week.”
MJs is shaping up to be just as popular with the college students. There is not another sandwich joint on German street, so it has the appeal of a quick yet filling lunch or breakfast for a student on the go.
Chef Jordan said that even before school started, the woman’s soccer team was coming several times a week after early morning preseason practices. Now he says they have “a couple of clubs and
classes that host meetings [there].”
Aly Nazarok said she has “been back several times and will continue to go back.” I interviewed five Shepherd University students and all of them agreed; theyenjoyed their experience at MJs, and they would go back again to study and eat there.
MJs on German Deli Café has a unique menu and atmosphere that will add to the community of the German street eateries. They support the local economy and bring a welcome burst of energy to Shepherdstown. Their kindness and dedication to their business shows in their food and their service. It draws customers in and keeps them coming back.