Mia Eylon, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, always had a passion for cooking, especially kosher and Middle-Eastern foods, and even toyed with the idea of opening a restaurant one day. But as a busy real estate agent and mom to four in Cherry Hill, Mia put the idea off—until the pandemic happened. Encouraged by her kids to start a meal service during quarantine, Mia posted weekly meals for porch pickup, and it was such a hit that she ended up following her heart, opening Mia’s Meals—Falafel Bar in Haddonfield. The all-kosher menu attracts people from all over who come for the healthy and delicious homemade falafels, bowls, tahini shakes, and shawarma fries. We chatted with Mia to discover how Facebook helped launch her business, the secret to her success (hint: streamlining), and her go-to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Please tell us a little bit about your family and career background. My husband, Vic Eylon, and I have been married for almost 25 years, and I’m lucky he’s my best friend, too. Our daughter, Adi, is 23, and our sons are Yakir (21), Alon (17), and Yaron (10). I grew up in Staten Island, and when I graduated high school a year early, my mom wanted us to move to Israel, which we did. It’s where I met my husband. We married when I was 18 and moved back to the states in 1998, choosing to live in the Vorhees/Cherry Hill area. We love that it’s laid back with an excellent school system and strong community. I didn’t go to college because Vic and I married and started our family very early. But in 2003, I was looking to do something outside the home, so I became a licensed realtor. I like it because it’s a career that allows for lots of family time which is the most important thing to me. But, I’ve always been passionate about cooking and have kept it in the back of my mind as a business idea. Feeding people and hosting family and friends have always filled my heart with joy. Throughout the years, I thought about opening a place, especially since there was a lack of kosher and Middle Eastern food in the area. When the pandemic hit, my kids suggested I try meal prepping with porch pickup. I tested the waters by sending out a post on Facebook, and I immediately got 100 orders, so I continued to post there and on Instagram, and it snowballed from there. After much thought, I decided to open up a brick-and-mortar in Haddonfield.
What has been the most surprising thing about owning your particular business? I’m so happy and proud of what I’ve developed, especially regarding the kosher observing community. Our food is delicious, and I knew people would like it, but the response has been overwhelming! From the get-go, my customers have been repeats, and they continue to bring family and friends and spread the word, plus they fully embrace and support it on social media. And people have been coming from all over- Arizona, Texas, upstate New York—because they’ve heard about Mia’s Meals and happen to be in the area. I get so many people asking me to open Mia’s Meals in their area, and because of the response, we’ve got a couple of things in the works. We’re planning on franchising Mia’s Meals because the positive response has shown me it can succeed everywhere. There’s pizza, burgers, fries, and Asian food everywhere—people love falafel so much that there should be falafel everywhere, too. We’re also looking into getting a food truck. It will be based out of New Jersey but will travel to festivals, breweries, wineries, bar mitzvahs, weddings, wherever.
How supportive is your family? My husband and I are each other’s left and right hands in everything. He’s always there to support me mentally and physically in whatever way needed. And my kids were the reason I started prepping meals and doing porch pickup during the pandemic. It started because of them. But, I did develop this business so that I wasn’t dependent on them having to be a part of it because everyone is busy doing their own thing, too. My daughter, Adi, is very busy as a second-year Med School student, but she helped with the initial online media posts and design and logo decisions. Yakir just graduated college with a Business Finance degree and stays busy working a part-time job. Alon also keeps busy with a part-time job to earn some money. And Yaron is my walking marketing person—he wears my sweatshirts every day and has even been known to help clear tables.
What is the secret to your success? Keeping things streamlined is what makes the business work. Everything – from our small, curated menu to how we serve our food in the same containers for eat-in or take-out – is kept simple and makes the business easier to operate and manage.
Hands down, the most challenging thing has got to be all the time away from my family. Before this, I was always available at any given time, even when I had other work commitments, but when you start any new business, everything starts and stops with you. I need to ensure my core business is strong and that I get my staff to the point of “business as usual” even when I’m not physically there, but I’ve got a good team, and it’s getting there.
What are some of your favorite things to do in NJ with your family? Everything we do is family-oriented, whether at home, eating out, or down the shore. Margate is a family favorite. We like to take a bunch of food with us, hang out at the beach, and enjoy the day.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? I head to Produce Junction at least once a week. I love the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; they also have beautiful flowers and plants. And I love the abundance of kosher and vegan items at Trader Joe’s.