The three friends enjoy a “food challenge” in Sheila’s kitchen.
The three friends enjoy a “food challenge” in Sheila’s kitchen. (Jerry Zolynsky)

Eight-year-old twins Sara and Bella Selesny and their neighbor Sheila Guyer, 80, started an exclusive eatery whose clients are limited to the Selesny family and a few neighbors.

How sweet it is to have good neighbors during a pandemic.

When 8-year-old twins Sara and Bella Selesny of Southfield get bored, they need to go no further than across the street to visit with their good friend Sheila Guyer, who is 80.

There, ever since they can remember and were old enough to cross the street by themselves, Guyer’s home has been a place where on Shabbat afternoons they would enjoy the company of their neighbor. They spend the time playing games, reading from books like Amelia Bedelia or admiring Guyer’s collection of intricate pop-up books.

When the pandemic canceled all summer camping activities, Guyer welcomed the girls over a few times a week to play and do other camp-style backyard activities.

Sheila watches as the girls play Jenga.
Sheila watches as the girls play Jenga. Jerry Zolynsky

Over the years, Guyer has also taught the twins to sew, bake and cook. Since the pandemic set in, the two families have included one another in their pandemic bubble.

When the girls were 5, the three started the “Sweet Café.” Run out of Guyer’s home, it is an exclusive eatery whose clients are limited to the Selesny family and a few other neighbors. Each week, the twins and Guyer plan simple menus of tuna and egg salad or grilled cheese sandwiches or baked macaroni and cheese, plus some baked treats and homemade ice cream sandwiches.

The Sweet Café has served as many as 20 customers per week. The twins split their earnings three ways — equally between themselves with the final third given to tzedakah. Before the pandemic, Guyer arranged and set up tables in her home, the girls designing menus and centerpieces. Now, customers place orders over the phone and pick them up on Guyer’s front porch.

The twins’ father, Joey Selesny, said they are blessed to have two sets of grandparents who live nearby. Their friendship with their neighbor is one extra person they have in their life for a special intergenerational friendship.  

Over the years, Guyer has attended special school events at Farber Hebrew Day School, where Sara and Bella are third-graders, and even needlepointed covers for when the twins received their first siddur.

Sheila Guyer and Sarah and Bella Selesny.
Sheila Guyer and Sara and Bella Selesny. Jerry Zolynsky

Guyer was a high school teacher but spent most of her married life to the late Dr. Martin Guyer volunteering for Meals on Wheels and the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Selesny family moved onto her street about nine years ago, but the friendship between the Selesny and Guyer families stretches back 50 years.

With her three grown children and their families living out of town, Guyer said she has welcomed the company of the Selesny twins as well as the rest of their family.

“The girls are delightful and fun to be with,” Guyer said. “When the pandemic started, we kept apart and stayed in our homes. As we got used to things and things became routine, we carefully would let each other into each other’s homes starting in the spring and summer. I am very glad they expanded their [pandemic bubble] to include me. It has been a real lifesaver, and it is a relief to them, and me, to be in someone else’s four walls every now and again.” 

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Stacy Gittleman is an award-winning journalist and has been a contributing writer for the Detroit Jewish News for the last five years. Prior to moving to Metro Detroit in 2013, she was a columnist and feature writer for Gannett's Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. She also manages social media pages for other local non-profit organizations including the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit. Contact her with breaking news and feature story ideas that impact Detroit's Jewish community at stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com