MONTGOMERY – Inspired by a love of the outdoors and homemade Dutch bites, CafÃ© Oma offers classic European fare in Montgomery.
âOmaâ in Dutch means âgrandmother,â and that’s exactly what inspired chef and cafÃ© owner Elizabeth Powers to open the cafÃ© in the first place: her grandmother.
âI needed someone to take care of me,â Powers said, pointing to the faded photo of his Oma perched on the back bar, watching the dining room intently. âMy Oma taught me a lot of what I know. I needed his inspiration to open this place.
Powers opened the cafe and outdoor recreation paradise five weeks ago. Located at 91 Main Street, it is within cycling distance of the railroad track.
The first steps inside CafÃ© Oma are greeted by the aromas of deep and rich “kaffe”, hot puff pastry and new bicycle tires. While patrons wait for their white coffee or hot-squeezed tosti sandwich, they can browse backpacks, mountain bikes and professional cycling gear at Jay Cloud Cyclery, which shares space downstairs and upper levels of the building.
On a clear day in Vermont, spring through late fall, cyclists can hop onto the trail or downtown and stop for a bite to eat or a cappuccino – and maybe a new pair of shorts. biking. The restaurant is very central, which makes walking around the city center with Cafe Oma cocoa in hand a tempting way to spend a fall Saturday.
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After graduating in cooking from Johnson and Wales in the 1990s, Powers owned Smokin ‘Lil’s BBQ in Northampton, Massachusetts. for several years before moving to Montgomery with her husband in 2010 to be closer to her friends.
Once here, Powers discovered that her experiences as a restaurant owner and manager made her an asset to many businesses in the Montgomery community. She worked both at the Black Lantern Inn and at the Blue Bike Cafe which most recently occupied the current space at Cafe Oma.
When the Blue Bike Cafe chose not to reopen because of COVID-19 last summer, Powers found herself taking the keys to the small storefront and making the cafe their own.
âWe focus on simplicity,â said Powers. âIt’s really hard to own a restaurant right now, so we made sure that whatever we opened, we could run it on our own. “
Powers customized the restaurant to be run by a staff of less than five people. Small bites and sandwiches to go, coffees and pastries and daily specials make up the cozy menu, with a few customizable options and combinations that kill: the Hammythyme with pickles and butter with thyme compote, is crisp on the outside and soft and salty on the inside.
âI’m really surprised that this has all become one thing,â Powers said. “It was a big business.”
In addition to limiting the menu to what they knew they could handle, the Oma Cafe team wanted to be able to stay socially aloof for COVID-19 purposes. Powers and his team therefore removed some of the dining room tables to make room for more standing and counter service.
With the 2021 leaf season, waves of customers returned to Vermont, which was a good start for his business. But the supply chain and ingredient shortages were very real hurdles that Powers and his team faced.
The key, Powers said, was to keep it simple: limiting much of her ingredients to things she could acquire locally helped keep her menu in stock. Flour, coffee, eggs, milk, and cheese aren’t hard to find in Vermont.
âSuppliers don’t even take requests from new customers,â Powers said. âThank goodness I have Black River as my only seller. It’s really hardâ¦ and I think things are going to get worse. “
Food deliveries were seriously affected during the shortage, as were dry items like coffee cups. The price of stacks of compostable coffee mugs has dropped from $ 50 to $ 200, and Powers said pricing coffee based on demand was a challenge.
But with Oma on guard, Powers and his team meet and beat more than just eggs for his sandwiches.
What is on the menu
CafÃ© Oma’s menu is inspired by Powers’ time in her grandmother’s kitchen, learning to make anything from Dutch apple cake to ‘tosti’: a pressed Dutch sandwich with fresh vegetables, homemade cheeses, meat and condiments.
While many of her recipes are original, Powers said she regularly draws on her grandmother’s influence to handcraft cozy Dutch and Polish-inspired creations from local ingredients, including local eggs and cheese from Boston Post Dairy just minutes away.
Cakes, scones, and vegetarian and gluten-free options available, Cafe Oma’s offerings aim to combine European bike cafe culture with a bucolic Vermont atmosphere. Lucky customers will find his chicken and cookies a daily special.
With any luck, Powers will soon be making her own Dutch stroopwafels – she is now actively researching the coveted stroopwafel iron used to make ultra-thin waffles that are pressed with caramel between them and served hot.
âIt’s incredibly difficult to find irons these days,â she said. “But I hope we find them.”