Joyce Bashara is the owner of Brew Ha Ha, 920 Broadway St., Niles.
Having taken over ownership of the coffee shop in 2013, Bashara serves a line of happy customers coffee, lattes, quiches, sandwiches, smoothies, soup, salad and baked goods every Tuesday through Saturday.
Originally from Elkhart, she spent nearly 30 years in Buchanan and now resides in Niles.
What do you think makes Michiana unique in comparison to other places?
It’s definitely our change of seasons and agriculture. You can get fresh anything here.
We are laid back. We don’t have the traffic you find in Chicago or Detroit, but the lake is just 20 minutes away. It’s just a great area. We are very fortunate, I think, to live in this area of the country.
What is your favorite place to visit in Michiana?
One of my favorite places is the grotto and the lake at Notre Dame. It’s just very peaceful, reflective and helps me clear my head. You can go there and just pray or enjoy the lake or enjoy the birds on the lake. It’s just a beautiful spot. I love going there. I find great peace there.
How do you think living in Michiana has shaped you?
I think we are a very open, vibrant community and that we have everything at our fingertips. You can be rural, suburban or lakeside. I think it makes us well-rounded individuals because we do have everything at our disposal.
You can choose to float on one of the rivers, or you can choose to go to South Bend to enjoy the nightlife. You can choose to go buy fresh fruit at the market stand, or you can choose to shop at Martin’s. We are very fortunate because we can do whatever we want or be whoever you want here. Everything is at our disposal.
What is your favorite time of the year?
I’m torn between spring and fall. I like spring because you get the flowers, and it is very pretty in the rebirth. But I just like the smell and the feel of fall — scarecrows and pumpkins and the crunch of the leaves when you go for a walk. I’d probably call it a tie.
If you were to meet someone planning a visit to the Michigan area for the first time, what places would you tell them not to miss?
They need to go to Lake Michigan. They definitely need to go to the grotto. I think the river lights in downtown South Bend are totally awesome. They should also do the wine trail — that’s fun.