Jam’s Joy Bungalow spices up Cotati

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There was a harmonious synchronicity that led Jamilah Nixon-Mathis to open Jam’s Joy Bungalow, located at 101 E. Cotati Ave., in late 2021. She was looking for a new place, ready to move on to a new business, and the opportunity was right because the old company, Wing Man, had closed due to the pandemic. In addition, she had a fondness for the city of Cotati. She worked at the Auberge du Commencement years ago. At that time, she had a boyfriend in a band who lived near Sonoma State. She loved the Cotati music scene and has fond memories of seeing a show with her father at the Cotati Cabaret. She said of Cotati that she liked the vibe and it was a “nice little spot.”

Her cooking talent was sparked by her Mexican grandmother and her Creole grandfather when she spent summers with them while growing up. She continued her culinary studies in Thailand where she spent time at a shrimp farm to learn the language and gain a flair for preparing Thai cuisine. Back home, she opened a successful restaurant with two partners in Sevastopol, called Forchetta Bastoni. In 2015 the partnership ended and after several years of working as a private chef, she helped open Jam’s Joy Bungalow in Sebastopol as a chef. Their motto is “creating vibrant food for spirited people”. The popular Sevastopol location has a limited menu, and she refers to the business as a take-out restaurant.

The Cotati location has opened up new opportunities in that there are both indoor and outdoor dining available. They have a full kitchen and have been able to expand their menu items. They have rotating specialties and serve both beer and wine.

Jam’s Joy Bungalow also offers a food truck service. The truck can be seen at weddings, birthday parties, private events, wineries and breweries. Food trucks have become popular with the public for a variety of reasons, including innovative and delicious dishes, convenience, reasonable prices, and the ability to socialize with friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

Jam creates the menus and recipes herself according to her own style. Since there are several Thai restaurants in Cotati, she didn’t want to “step on their toes” by only serving the same foods as them. Instead, she preferred to create offerings unlike anything else in Sonoma County.

She wanted Jam’s decor to be vibrant. The color palette is bright pink, yellow, and blue; colors that remind him of Southeast Asia. It is her belief that vibrant colors go hand in hand with a sunny disposition. She hoped to achieve the feeling of tropical, inviting and warm.

While there are many Southeast Asian-inspired delicacies to choose from, their most popular item is the Charlie Hustle sandwich, a treat filled with crispy chicken, sweet honey sauce, pickles, sriracha and cabbage.

For those concerned about dietary restrictions, Jam’s can accommodate vegetarians and vegans, and also offers gluten-free and grain-free selections.

Plans for the future include the possibility of adding live music outside.

Never one to rest on its laurels, Jam has his eye on a place in Santa Rosa that’s still under construction. She envisions a downtown location near the mall that would be a takeout like Sebastopol.

Jam loves what she does, and it shows.

Marilyn Lane is a Sonoma County resident who worked as a newsroom employee for The Press Democrat for 27 years.

Marilyn Lane is a Sonoma County resident who worked as a newsroom employee for The Press Democrat for 27 years.

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