M imi Weissman pumped down the dusty avenue in her thin-soled booties, imagining she was in Nikes and hiking down a mountain laced with grass. The Sienna remained tucked in the lucky few inches Levi secured for parking in the evenings; he took the subway to work and Mimi found the vehicle claustrophobic in the winter.

She was half a block away, savoring the misty warmth of winter sun, the whistle and roar of the wind. Eager to arrive at Zoberman’s, her favorite place in the whole freezing, miserable city. Dark wood paneling against blue and mustard tiles, sounds of family and patrons in for an early lunch, the saucy smells of Bea’s Hungarian cooking.

That was the good part about working in a fleishig eatery, she thought, you get to start work at noon.

She turned the corner. And stopped.

“Coming Soon!” a huge placard screamed. It was tacked to the green boards around the construction site... whoever was renovating, they’d been at it forever. “The Hive. A New Experience... Bringing Passion to the Table!”

She stilled. The sign was enormous, all bold print and vigorous graphics, tacked to the fence around the construction zone... directly across from Zoberman’s Eatery. In an instant, she felt heat in her ears, on her cheeks. Who— whoever they are, whoever they are! — how dare they? This community was typified — no, distinguished — by Zoberman’s, by our roasts and our sandwiches and Bea’s chocolate puddings. How dare they?

Mimi charged across the street. Her reflection shimmered on the black double doors, gray puffer, gray suede booties. I look like a Brooklyn nerd. She paused, eyes traveling up, windblown, black sheitel, the fire licking her green eyes. On second thought, I look like an angry cat. She sighed, suddenly drained, and kicked open the door.

Right on cue, Daddy rustled up to the small foyer. “Good morning, princess.” He took her coat and issued orders in the general direction of the kitchen, would someone bring out breakfast for his daughter?

“Here, Mimi,” Mommy said from right behind Daddy, making him jump. She set a bowl of cherry soup onto the corner table. “Eat. We need a new shipment of tablecloths — today. The old ones came back from the cleaners stained, they simply cannot be used. And what’s-his-name... the fruit and vegetable guy… Bernstein. He called, some emergency. I told Kaylie to talk to him. We need a new brazier pan. Also we’re low on plastic aprons.”

Mimi nodded. “Let me go check if everything’s running in the back. Then I’ll have my soup. Thanks, Ma.”

“Good,” Mommy said, and made off for the kitchen, her castle. Though if she was queen or slave there, Mimi wasn’t sure. Maybe a bit of both.

Her sister-in-law Kaylie was on the phone. She waved distractedly. Mimi clicked into Outlook, scanned Kaylie’s morning list of Problems That Need Your Attention Right Now. Kaylie was a conscientious assistant manager, but there was nothing there today worth fireworks, thank G-d. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 577)