KINGSTON — Jennifer Salazar has lived in Kingston for 10 years, and during that time, she has been waiting for the nirvana of an organic restaurant. It never materialized.
So she opened her own.
Seeing the opportunity to rent one of the newly constructed units on State Route 104 near the ferry terminal, she’s spent the last month since opening the Garden Cafe and Juice Bar settling into her niche.
Salazar said the area is set in every way as far as restaurants are concerned, except for an organic food option. Many residents in the area have been happy she’s filling the void.
“I’ve felt very welcomed and very pleased with the community’s reaction,” she said. “I’m amazed and happy that so many people have been supporting the restaurant.”
The cafe mainly features sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as desserts and baked goods from a local bakery. Salazar adds a twist in using almost entirely raw foods, nothing processed, and creates her own versions of popular meals put together more nutritiously. She makes the soups from scratch, though she’s planning to cut back on the hot food as it gets warmer and introduce other organic equivalents during the summer months.
“I’m also a big believer in healthy foods,” Salazar said. “I’d like to challenge the meat and potatoes type restaurants that are already in town. There are a lot of them along the same lines, and my cafe offers something different.”
Along with the raw food and organic draw, Salazar offers a variety of wares from stay-at-home moms, a group she belonged to before opening the cafe. Knowing many parents could use the help selling their crafts, she made sure to set some space aside with that in mind.
“I like to support them,” Salazar said. “I was one of them for a long time, so I want to help them out any way I can.”
Before opening the Garden Cafe, she worked a series of temporary and restaurant jobs in the area, though Salazar has never managed or owned a business. The challenge has been significant, but with the help of her family, she said she’s having a great time. Two of her sisters-in-law work in the cafe regularly, and friends and family are extremely supportive as well.
In the future, Salazar would like to expand the cafe to a full restaurant, though she would keep the current space as an extension of her operation. Her goal is simply to increase awareness of organic and raw foods and provide healthy, great tasting meals.
“There’s been a steady flow since I opened,” she said of her customers. “I’ve received a lot of good feedback, and I’ve heard that a lot of people have been wanting something like this in the last few years. I’m happy to hear that.”