As restaurants, caterers and other food service personnel fight to survive in the pandemic, who would even think of opening a new culinary business now?
Molly Healey would.
The Weston High School and Johnson & Wales graduate has a great background. She worked at Blue Hill, then did “cool, high-capacity catering” in the Bay Area for companies like Facebook and Salesforce.
Molly’s met her husband, Charles Gilhuly, through Walrus + Carpenter. They started a catering firm, Grateful Food Company. When their daughter was born she stayed home, and did private chef work. He’s run The Cottage and OKO for Brian Lewis.
Longtime clients Howard and Stacy Bass, and David and Yvette Waldman, loved Molly’s cooking. They brainstormed ideas for expansion, and came up with … a commissary kitchen.
It’s a great way, she says, to be “part of the community, and the local food scene.” The kitchen can be a place to offer cooking classes and run catering programs. Other groups can use the space too.
She found space behind Cycle Dynamics (across the Post Road from the drive-through Starbucks). The first delivery service — served by the kitchen — begins next week from Bedford Square. It’s called Manna Toast.
Molly had not planned to serve food until mid-summer. Strangely, now is a good time. “People are wary of restaurants,” she says. “But they’re used to delivery.”
The restaurant industry has been “slammed,” she notes. “Fortunately, we don’t have lots of employees that we had to let go. We’re starting fresh.”
She begins next Tuesday (May 26), delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), and 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.
More items will be added later. The cafe itself will be open in mid-July.
“I’m excited,” Molly says. “It’s weird to open in trying times. But it’s fun and exciting to get new food out there.”
Her website says, “Molly is a foodie — not an amuse-bouche foodie, but one who loves actual food: vegetables grown in fresh dirt, fruits harvested from local farms, and artisanal breads baked in Connecticut ovens. Molly is also a conscious citizen of the world, who takes great pride in making mindful meals for her own family, and for others.”
As Westport welcomes back our favorite restaurants and caterers, let’s welcome this new venture too. It’s manna from heaven — or at least, from a kitchen in town.