At 9 a.m. on a recent Wednesday, Olivia Brinton was busy experimenting.
“I just made my first test batch of pistachio-matcha bear claws,” she announced.
The Japanese green tea “looks cool,” she acknowledged, but it can taste, well, grassy and bitter. Brinton’s solution was a white chocolate glaze.
“It’s pretty, sweet and delicious,” she said.
The confection may be on the menu at The Peach Blossom Eatery at 76 E. Main St. in Newark. Owners Brinton and Samantha Ross hope to open in the old Pachamama space before November.
The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch and offer baked goods and carryout. And if the bear claws are any indication, the menu will be far from ordinary.
Brinton shared a few examples, such as a scrapple sandwich with two over-easy eggs, arugula and hot pepper jam on rye. The “Greek Freak” is a baguette sandwich with roasted lamb neck, caramelized onion, cucumber-sumac yogurt and herbs.
There is an eggplant parmesan on ciabatta for vegans made with cashew-garlic “cheese,” Calabrian chili marinara.
The eatery is not Brinton’s first entrepreneurial endeavor.
In 2017, she and Joe Lins opened Little Goat Coffee Roasting Co., a coffee shop and micro-roastery also in Newark. Although the business sells coffee and baked goods to customers, it is not a restaurant.
Little Goat’s emphasis is on wholesale operations. You can find the coffee in specialty supermarkets, such as Janssen’s Market and Newark Natural Food.
University of Delaware students can enjoy it in Stomping Grounds, a collaboration between Little Goat and the school. Little Goat delivers coffee. They also train staff.
You can also find Little Goat products at The House of William & Merry in Hockessin, where Brinton and Ross met.
Brinton was a server and bartender; Ross was a sous chef. After they both moved on to other jobs, they often walked their dogs together and talked about making sustainable living in the hospitality industry.
Brinton missed working with food. She’d grown up on a boutique farm in Chester County, where her parents grew rare produce for local restaurants and small distributors.
Little Goat, which does not have a kitchen, also needs a steady supply of consistently well-baked pastries and muffins.
The duo agreed that they wanted a business that closed at a reasonable hour. How could employees make a livable wage?
“A line cook should be valued the way a server is valued,” Brinton maintained. “A dishwasher is the backbone of the restaurant.”
The answer was a breakfast and lunch restaurant with a brisk to-go business.
They didn’t hesitate to turn their friendship into a partnership.
“I wanted to open this business with [Sam] because I have always worked well with her, and her detailed, talented approach to food preparation matches my approach to crafting coffee and alcoholic beverages,” Brinton explained. “I also wanted to go into business with a woman.”
The need for baked goods — such as pumpkin bread and vegan peanut butter cookies — and the desire to open a restaurant coincided with a wealth of available commercial space on Main Street.
The old Pachamama location has about 1,100 square feet of restaurant space. There’s also a 1,300-square-foot basement prep area.
The Peach Blossom Eatery will have 28 dining room seats, eight of which are at a lunch counter with a view of the open kitchen. There will also be 12 patio seats.
Brinton is confident that she can juggle both businesses.
“I have a wonderful, responsible crew at Little Goat who have been with me for at least three years and know how to keep the ship afloat,” said Brinton, who will spend up to three days a week at the roastery.
The partners plan to expand wholesale pastry distribution. But don’t expect a Peach Blossom Eatery in Wilmington.
“Neither of us has interest in having multiple locations or franchising,” Brinton said. “We believe that authenticity is what makes a restaurant so special.”
For now, they are targeting Newark residents, Little Goat customers and students.
“We hope to foster an environment where the community of Newark is happy to come out to eat.”
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