You know Jumbars for their delicious food, especially breakfasts, but now let’s learn a bit about their history.

Jumbars was established in November 2003 by Chef Paul Hoffert and his wife Mary. Chef Paul graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in 1988 and continued to live and work in Montepelier, Vermont until 1996, when they moved back home to the Lehigh Valley. They opened the café to provide a venue for fresh, hand-crafted cuisine, good conversation, and a sense of community. Even after Mary’s passing in 2008, the Hoffert family continues the Jumbars legacy by providing first class food and atmosphere to the Lehigh Valley.

And we’re glad they do! So, what’s up with the name? Jumbars was named after Mary’s great grandmother, Anna Jumbar. Anna immigrated to the United States, alone and in her teens, in 1876. She settled in Lansford, Pennsylvania. Unable to find work, she convinced the coal company to let her live in a box car that was broken down beyond repair. She installed a coal stove and set up long tables to feed the coal miners. Later on, she met her husband, Stephen, and the two of them became pioneers, helping other immigrants in the area find housing and employment.

Jumbars is still thriving and it’s totally unique, we asked manager Emily Hoffert why, “I think Jumbars provides a place to slow down, focus on the company you’re with– or a good book if you’re going solo that day– and enjoy a delicious homemade meal.  My dad makes everything from scratch, from the breads to the jams to the desserts, omelettes and sausage.  We use local ingredients whenever possible and we pride ourselves on the freshness of our food.  Add all that together and it’s a unique atmosphere; as our tagline says, “there’s no place quite like Jumbars.”

They’re competing in the Express Times’ Breakfast Showdown, and we think they have a good shot at winning! As Emily told us, “We’re honored to be a finalist in the showdown.  It’s great to be selected by our customers as a favorite local breakfast place, and I hope the judges liked it as much as our customers seem to.  They tried some of those customer favorites (the New England Omelette, a grilled sticky bun, a grilled duffin with Nutella) plus the Spanish Omelette and our pumpkin pancakes.  I think the winning restaurant could be any of us — it really depends on what the judges are looking for.  I think our unique qualities are in fact unique, just as the other finalists have their own strengths.  I don’t envy the judges for having to make a decision!”

Good Luck, Jumbars!