By Kim Mueller
Jennifer Wheat took community building to a whole new level this month when she opened her café in the Crossroads as a way to feed her neighbors.
“I literally named it Neighborhood Table because I wanted it to be a neighborhood project,” explained Jennifer Wheat who opened Wheat Neighborhood Table in the former YJ’s Snack Bar space at 128 W. 18th St.
“This is a walking neighborhood so you want to walk to get your lunch.”
For many years, Wheat often walked to YJ’s which was across the street from her photography studio.
When YJ’s recently moved to the west edge of the Crossroads district, the photographer decided to open her own cafe there with the help of an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.
“I felt like a place like this needs the buy in from the neighbors to be successful,” she said. “You need the neighbors to come and eat here. And it’s been awesome.
“The whole neighborhood has been super supportive and excited.”
Wheat raised $8,827 of her $20,000 Indiegogo goal, according to the crowd funding site. People who contributed at least $500 received an extra perk: They could name a menu item of their choice.
Family, friends and local businesses rose to the challenge, creating The Emfluence (eggs and bacon with toast and jam), McWong Breakfast Sammich (eggs, chedder cheese and bacon), Little Sis (berries, coconut, cream cheese and raspberry sauce), and CAROL (eggs, avocado, parmesan, hemp seeds and bacon).
CAROL is named after Wheat’s mother.
“It’s our best seller,” Wheat chuckled, “which mom really likes.”
Finally, Wheat hired Chef Carson Rau to make her vision a reality. Rau previously worked at the Marriott and Michael Smith restaurants.
“I am a foodie, but I am not a chef by any stretch,” Wheat explained. “So I hired a really good food person. I tell her what I like then she figures out how to make it.”
Rau created the simple menu centered around Wheat’s favorite food: avocado toast. The locally sourced menu has three categories: Sweet Toasts, Savory Toasts and Other Things. Farm to Market Bread Co. makes the artesian toasts.
Sunflour Bakery creates the pastries. Thou Mayest coffee roasters brings the coffee. And Tea Biotics provides the probiotic kabucha tea.
“I really wanted it to be community based,” Wheat said. “It’s for sure a very Crossroads-centric project.”
The tiny café modeled after European bistros contains a sparse kitchen wedged diagonally in the dining area with one rustic table seating only eight people.
A round, metal outdoor table is available for four extra customers. Wheat Neighborhood Table serves breakfast and lunch from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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