Miranda and Austin Gagnon opened Morning Joint coffee and sandwich shop on Jan. 23 with the support of Square Grouper Bar & Grill owner Lynn Bell at MM 22 on Cudjoe Key.

Have you been to MM 22 recently? For something other than lunch, drinks or dinner at Square Grouper and My New Joint?

There are now two new reasons to stop in that Lower Keys neighborhood, or even make a special trip.

Nearly next door to the Square Grouper, Lynn Bell’s popular mainstay restaurant for the past 20 years, on the same side of the street now comes Morning Joint and Mary Jane’s Closet, 22864 Overseas Hwy.

Morning Joint is equal parts delicious, welcoming and irreverent, playing as it does on Bell’s pot theme. (“Square grouper” is the term Keys boaters, fishermen and smugglers used to describe bales of marijuana and kilos of cocaine that were found floating in the ocean.)

Bell bought the building that now houses Morning Joint, which is owned and operated by Austin and Miranda Gagnon.

The joint features Colombian coffee grown on a farm owned by the couple’s friend. It also offers some of the lightest and fluffiest gourmet waffles (one of which is topped with freshly made whipped cream and Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereal. Don’t knock it till you try it, as I did.)

The panini sandwiches are perfectly pressed and crispy on the outside, while the coffee and tea drinks come hot, iced or frozen.

“We really want to be a fun and inviting place for people in the Lower Keys community, because there really is no place in this neighborhood for people to gather, hold a small meeting, or just relax and hang out,” said Austin Gagnon, who also owns Elite Bartending and has likely trained more than half the bartenders in the Keys. 

Morning Joint opens early for the commuters on U.S. 1 and is still playing with afternoon and evening hours. But whenever you do stop, don’t miss the back patio, where tables, chairs and swings hanging from trees welcome people, kids — and dogs. 

Mary Jane’s Closet — a “provisions and paraphernalia” shop (get it?) shares the building with Morning Joint. The two are accessible to each other inside, and have separate exterior entrances. 

Mary Jane’s Closet is part gift shop, part local art gallery and part artisanal food shop, featuring authentic and upscale Vermont cheddar cheese as well as wine by the bottle and glass and charcuterie assemblies that can be eaten on the premises, taken home or packed for a day on the boat. 

In addition to the Square Grouper merch, such as hats and shirts, the Closet also features glassware, dishes, jewelry, local artwork, books, photography and more. 

“While Morning Joint just opened last Monday, it was important to me to get Mary Jane’s Closet open before Christmas, so we opened two weeks prior in December,” Bell said. “I have a vested interest in the coffee shop, but I really wanted Austin and Miranda to do it and be part of it. They’re great people with a great business sense.”

An official ribbon-cutting and grand opening will take place around 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 10.

Check out both places — and the original Square Grouper — you won’t be disappointed.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.