Monday, March 30, 2009

Date Night in Saxy

Last week I was busy baking cupcakes when Arwen, one of the staff at Saxapahaw General Store, approached me with a message from a customer. "A guy came in the store the other day to ask if we take reservations," she said. I giggled at the thought, but she went on. A customer was planning to host an out of town date for her birthday and wanted to offer a special dinner experience for her. He chose us.

Touched by the thought of being entrusted with such a gesture, Arwen and I cooked up our best plan. We'd put a tablecloth on the back booth--the one that's tucked away behind the motor oil--and he could bring flowers for the table. I'd make a special dessert, and Jeff would be putting on his weekend dinner show already. We'd put Sinatra on the iPod and offer them table service. Arwen called our new friend to tell him the plan, and she reassured him that if his date had a sense of humor, it'd be a great success. He even called me back to make a special dessert request. We'd have cheesecake. They would arrive at 7:30 sharp.

When Saturday evening came, Jeff and I were tired from a lively day. My cheesecake had turned out really well, if I may say so, and was ready for its debut. Jeff's pork chops and his local sirloin were scrumptiously tender as always, and he'd even talked me through the making of a bisque. Arwen had carefully collected votive holders, tea lights, and a lovely crocheted table cloth from her home to bring to the store for our date's table. At her direction, I had lit the candles and dimmed the lights in the Coke cooler, and I'd started the music. We were ready for magic.

Jeff and I were preparing to take our leave, knowing that Arwen and company could handle our guests--but something stopped us. We decided to wait for our friend and his date to arrive. Boy am I glad we did. We had the chance to serve them a nice meal in our little store, and they were gracious enough to act as though they were enjoying an experience in a fine dining establishment. They didn't seem to notice that our silverware doesn't match, and they sacheted right past the case stack of Havoline to reach their table in the back. He asked Jeff for a wine recommendation. They gushed over the cheesecake. What a gift.


We're immortalized!

Jeff's stepfather, John Murphy, is a builder of model trains and the villages that surround them. After visiting Saxapahaw and offering a great deal of help acting as host during a busy weekend (among other projects), he has returned to Michigan and added a new business to his train world. He said of the spot, "It looks like it is getting off to a great start. The locals are already flocking in for gas, groceries, produce and gourmet food - even before there was time to paint the bricks."

Boy are we honored. It's one of the most beautiful gestures of support to date. Thanks John!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Now and then

It has been a fantastic winter here at the store. Our dinner business is on the increase, lunch and breakfast are maxing us out. We have just hired two more folks and look forward to hiring a third. The funny thing is winter is the slowest time of the year for a store like ours. Guess what? Spring has sprung.

Last weekend saw the first day of spring and was one of the best we have ever had. No new articles written about us (though we are expecting a visit from a well known magazine to be named later). No puppet theater. Yet, we doubled in business over the previous darn good weekends. Saturdays at Saxapahaw haven't even hit yet and Saturdays are hoppin'. The store is abuzz. It is becoming a community center where folks of all stripes are getting to know each other. We were honored to cater our friend and perhaps most profoundly loyal member of our community, Chris Carter's birthday. This kind of event allows us to showcase what will be possible on as regular basis as the project develops into other parts of the mill. We did a whole fish from the Carolina coast (20# striped bass)with local sweet potato mashers and local braised baby bok choy. Though we won't be doing 20 pound whole fish nightly at the restaurant and pub, catering allows us to stretch expectations. Cameron made a chocolate torte with strawberry balsamic glaze for dessert. Thank you Chris and Deborah.

So what is in store now (nice phrase for a store--it can mean what is to come and what's in the store), you might ask? In our efforts to provide produce with as much local as possible we have procured some beautiful carts from deep in the bowels of the mill. As I understand they are called dobbin bins. They are spring loaded yarn bins that wheel around and allow for a more lovely and functional produce display. In the not too distant future look for a produce display cooler. In an effort to provide dinner items, we also have added Thursday, Friday and Saturday special dinner items. Restaurant to come. We have wine glasses and beer glasses on request, pub is right around the corner.

Last Monday we had a marathon session with a bunch of gifted folks from Clearscapes and Alphin design build. They along with we have formed a collaborative effort in the design and function of sustainable businesses and buildings. Sustainable Saxapahaw with an art center, a coffee shop, food and drink as mentioned, a photo studio and more. It's right in front of us. Can you imagine it?

Envisioningly yours,


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Local Goat

In all of my years in this business I have never seen a food phenomena like this one. The goat meat hamburger at a gas station! When Jason from Carolina goat farms stopped by a few months ago, I knew I wanted to get goat on the menu. Goat is now officially on the culinary front burner in our country. However, functionally because of price and size of the cuts it wasn't practical to offer it daily from our style of menu. We will work chops and stuff into our specials dinner menu.

So, I thought, well, we sell a lot of local beef via the American classic, why not a twist - perhaps with a Moroccan feel? Cameron had already decided to make English muffins in house so I decided to colonize those add a few accents and some raw sheep's milk cheese and the next thing we know the local goat burger is out-selling the local ground beef burger.

Now, Jason is bringing us whole goats just for hamburgers. We have our own goats on his farm. There they are, our neighbors just across 54 in Mebane, you can visit them.

Today's specials for lunch are:

Yes, the goat burger
pan seared salmon on croissant
Seafood Gumbo
Duck breast salad local Celebrity Dairy goat cheese with currants and grilled red onions and balsamic glaze.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


We had quite a startling weekend here at the store. After the Durham, Chapel Hill and multi-county Herald Sun Article broke on thursday we were seeing folks come from all directions. So when Marcia and Henry showed from Fearrington Village I was not at all surprised.

It was Saturday, a nasty wet and cold beginning to a nasty wet and cold weekend. Marcia, a big city foodie with a philanthropic soul, has been an ardent supporter since Dan Fairris and I opened the short-lived Fowlers in Fearrington. She was one of the first in Fearrington to catch wind that I was at the Marketplace in Chatham. Marcia and Henry attended my cooking classes and the wine and food dinners there faithfully. Needless to say i was happy to see Marcia peer over our specials menu board to give me a jibe.

We were slammed at the time and so I lost track of her for a few minutes while I wondered what she might order and how gently brutal she may be with her assessment. Next thing I know someone is yelling call 911.

As I made it to her side she was just coming to. She was bloodied and confused from the fall after fainting. It all turned surreal. My head hurt and I was having trouble functioning on the stove-top. Wondering, feeling a concussive headache and sick to my stomach, we pushed on with another busy and precious day.

If anyone has heard about Marcia please contact us here at the store.