Op-ed by Judge Derek Mosley
Like everyone, I’ve heard how important it is to start your day with breakfast. For me, this generally entails slathering a bagel with cream cheese and then heading out the door. Lately, however, I’ve been going out for breakfast once a week to Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant. I’m not talking about the Perkins Restaurant chain, but the mom-and-pop establishment at 2001 W. Atkinson in Milwaukee, which was recently voted one of the best soul food restaurants in the United States.
I don’t sit at a booth—instead, I prefer to belly up to the lunch counter. I’m immediately greeted by Mia, who pours me a cup of coffee, hands me a modest menu and lets me get settled. A newspaper is always available on the counter if I want, but I choose to get my news from the patrons sitting already sitting nearby.
A TV is on, mounted close to the ceiling for easy viewing, but it’s the music coming from the radio that always grabs my attention. Some Reverend Al Green and the Staple Singers… Instantly, I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The sweet smell of fried potatoes, grilled onions and thick cut bacon wafts through the air. The items on the menu are simple, but oh-so-pleasing.
The food at Mr. Perkins brings me back each week, but it’s the company and relationships I found that keep me satisfied. Politicians sit next to construction workers, who sit next to retirees. All come together for great food, conversation and fellowship. The spirited banter about local and national issues, sports, music and pop culture are all served with a side of down-home Southern cooking. It’s a great way to start the day.
What started as a way to get breakfast in the morning has transformed into a weekly gathering among friends. I come to nourish my body, and in the process, nourish my mind and my spirit. Now, I ask you to get out, grab some breakfast and meet some new friends. Whether it’s Mr. Perkins or any other of the fine establishments in the Milwaukee area, don’t just go for the meal, be a part of the community. I’ll see you there.
Judge Derek Mosley is a man who loves food and a well-connected Milwaukeean. A graduate of Marquette University Law School in 2002, he was the youngest African-American to be appointed judge in the State of Wisconsin and, since 2004, has presided as Judge of the Milwaukee Municipal Court.
The recipient of numerous awards, including the Leaders in Law Award from the Wisconsin Law Journal, the Milwaukee Black Times’ Black Excellence Award, the Milwaukee Business Journal’s “Forty Under Forty” and more, Judge Mosley also sits on the Board of Directors for many organizations, including the YMCA-Urban Campus, Transcenter for Youth, the Northwest Side CDC, the Lad Lake Adolescent Residential Treatment Center, and the Urban Ecology Center.