It’s been well over six long months that I’ve been waiting to share openly and publicly of what’s been happening behind the scenes, and let me just this this little double life hasn’t been an easy one to hide. Long story short, my partner-in-crime Jane and I are opening a cafe, The Nook, early Fall located at University of Maryland’s Bio Park in Baltimore City. There are SO many questions between friends, family, and maybe some readers so the easiest thing for me to do is break it all down for you. Let’s start with Jane because some of you are wondering who the heck she is.
Jane and I worked side by side as sales managers the past three years (me three years, Jane ten years) at Sascha’s Catering. Jane is exactly 25 years older than me and has been a role model, recipe inspiration, second mom, friend, and office (now business) partner since. Jane and I left Sascha’s back in February to pursue this opportunity, which happened to be perfect timing as a few weeks later Sascha’s Catering sold to a local and well respected Baltimore restaurant. As if the moon and stars couldn’t have been in a more perfect alignment. You’ll hear much more about our relationship as this journey unfolds, but let’s just say nobody was surprised when finding out Jane and I are in business together. We have industry friends who joke that it wasn’t a matter of if we’d do something on our own, but when.
WHAT & WHERE
The first reaction when I tell people is, “Bio-whaaaa?”
If you’re from the Baltimore area you’re most likely familiar with University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB). I’m not talking College Park (although go Terps!), I’m talking the hospital and surrounding campuses downtown, commonly known for the shock trauma, school of nursing, school of pharmacy, and much more. University of Maryland is one of the first things you see when entering the city and at night time if you look close enough you can see University of Maryland Bio Park all lit up.
So, what the heck is it?
Bio Park, located across MLK Boulevard, is a 12-acre technology and science campus/community filled with research centers, office space, clinical space, labs, and more. It is currently home to two commercial lab and office buildings, Maryland Forensic Medical Center, Maryland Proton Treatment Center, and over the next few years there will be additional retail, housing, and hotel commercial development. We will be located at the BioPark Two building on the first floor, conveniently attached to a conference room/event space. We will talk about that soon. We’re taking over an existing cafe with a completely new concept, menu, design, and service. I’ll talk about that too, but first I’m sure there’s a few questions going through your mind, like how the heck did this happen?
Okay there’s a story.
There’s a lonnnngggg story of how this happened and I’m sure one day we will get to that. For now, let’s just say Jane and I were more than ready to leave the wedding industry. We loved our weddings, clients, and industry friends, but working 35 weekends and six days a week does a little something to your sanity. When we were offered the opportunity to leave our jobs and take over a cafe within a medical/teaching institution, we jumped HARD.
You see, twenty years ago Jane ran a cafe at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In the three years working next to her she brought up that cafe I don’t know, maybe a hundred times? When this opportunity came up with Bio Park she not only took it as her second chance to do what she loves, but our chance at doing business together. And that brings us to why we’re doing what we are doing.
It took some time for us to mentally prepare leaving the wedding industry. Sure, after a weekend of five weddings it was easy to say we were over it, but when the time came it was a lot easier said than done. It was more than our jobs, it was our career and our comfort zone. However just as things got tough, we had an amazing support system to remind us why this unique opportunity is huge:
- Demand. We will be one of the few food sources available within the entire 12-acres of the Bio Park campus, which in total has thousands of employees, students, doctors, and patients daily. This does NOT include the thousands and thousands that occupy the main UMB campus/hospital.
- Catering. Remember that conference room I mentioned? That’s booked daily with breakfast and/or lunch meetings, all in desperate need for food. Not to mention the office tenants in our building and across the street, who need everything from coffee for 15 and/or lunch trays for 25. Cya later weddings, lunch trays and Continental breakfasts we’re coming for ya.
- Community. Jane and I love Baltimore and more importantly, we feel so strong influencing the community (especially children) with healthy cooking. I will continue teaching my children’s cooking lessons and we will be bringing the community together one bite at a time.
What happens now?
Since the word is out I can FINALLY start sharing what’s been happening behind the scenes, like how we designed the menu, our mission, the redesign of the cafe, the construction process, our incredible vendors, and the most important: the business side of things. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and will continue to learn every day as a business owner. If you’re wondering what is going to happen to the blog, I will still be here! In fact, I will have more to share than ever before and I’m thrilled to bring you in on the journey.
I can’t conclude this without thanking my incredible support team, especially Scott, my parents, Scott’s family, Jane and her husband Bob (our everything man), and our pitbull of a business man Ron who made this all possible. This would not have happened without their endless support, help, and encouragement. You guys are everything to us and The Nook!
As of today (Sunday August 6th) we are wrapping up a few more things before taking over the space in less than twenty days. I plan to document the remodeling phase which is taking up the entire month of September and also introduce the incredible vendors I talked about. This is such an exciting journey and I’m thrilled to take you all on it, and hey, maybe one day you’ll come in for a visit or glass of wine.
….did I mention we will have beer and wine? There’s SO much more to share, but this will do for now – chao!
Be sure to “like” The Nook on Facebook to see all of the behind the scenes that will be starting soon!
- Photographgy: Megan Harris Photography
- Aprons: Elizabeth Giles Events
- Logo: Carla Mattioli (IM Design)