What do you do once you've established a sterling reputation as a caterer, and you want to expand your business beyond private parties? You parlay that reputation into the retail market with a restaurant or gourmet shop -- or maybe even both.
That's just what two area caterers have done.
In Cary, CIA-trained Cindy Anderson's catered affairs have been winning fans for a few years now. Anderson took the retail plunge in September, opening Cindy's House Cafe (380-1193) with her husband Andy at 140 E. Chatham St.
The cheery, casual atmosphere of the place, accented by rotating consignment art on sunny orange and yellow walls, belies the chef's serious culinary background. Before she opened her catering business, Cindy Anderson had worked at such restaurants as Fearrington House and Margaux's, where she and Andy met (he's a seasoned restaurant veteran, too, working mostly in the front of the house).
The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch only, Monday through Saturday. The breakfast offering is brief but varied, ranging from Belgian waffles to omelets and frittatas to biscuits with sausage gravy.
Come midday, the menu switches to soups, salads, sandwiches, and a handful of entrees. With offerings including the likes of shrimp bisque, jumbo lump crab salad with mustard vinaigrette, roast beef and brie panini, and Carolina shrimp and grits, the chef's background is amply evident.
Fortunately, the prices don't reflect a surcharge for that background. Sandwiches and salads are in the $5 to $6 range, with entrees fetching a dollar or two more.
Meanwhile in Raleigh, the biggest news to hit Cameron Village in a long time is Figs Market (719-0328), which is slated to open Nov. 18 in the old Jill Flink Fine Art space at 2018 Clark Ave.
The gourmet shop/market/restaurant's owners are sisters Jill Kucera and Lorin Laxton, whose Catering Works has been building a loyal following for 15 years.
Their first retail venture is ambitious, including a gourmet shop and market whose highlights include a wine shop, artisan cheeses cut to order by a dedicated cheesemonger, La Farm breads, house-baked pastries and Viking kitchen wares.
A broad selection of prepared meals is available for takeout. Those opting to dine in the casual forty-seat restaurant will choose from a salad bar, hot bar (including vegetarian selections prepared by a vegan chef), old-fashioned milkshakes and coffee drinks made with beans from local roaster Larry's Beans.
Figs Market will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A special brunch will be served on Saturday and Sunday. If the market lives up to its promise -- and to the Catering Works reputation -- the Triangle's largest city will finally have the gourmet shop it has sorely lacked. New brunch options
In Chapel Hill, Aurora is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering its Italian-accented take on the theme. Check the restaurant's Web site (www.aurorarestaurant.com) for details, including brunch menu.
Babette's Sunday brunch menu, including heart-healthy dishes, is available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can find the complete menu at www.babettes.net.
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