With Everyone Eats taking off across the state of Vermont, we have been thrilled to see more and more local restaurants getting involved. Momo’s Market and Kitchen Space in the Old North End of Burlington is one of the many cafes, food trucks and restaurants taking part in making meals for Vermonters in need. Hear from owner Erin Malone, and chef-owner Emily Eden on how COVID impacted their business, how they pivoted, and how Everyone Eats came at just the right time.
Can you tell us a little bit about Momo’s and when you started your business?
Momo’s is a neighborhood market located in Burlington’s Old North End. Momo’s is an energetic little market with a range of grab and go breakfast sandwiches, groceries as well as a great beer and wine selection. Erin Malone started Momo’s in December 2015 reimagining the historic Willard Street Market. True to its past, Momo’s renovated the interior to now include an exposed tin ceiling, and adding a custom mural by Bethany Andrews Nichols of Beenanza Design as well as a commercial kitchen. In 2018, Erin met Emily Eden, a personal chef, at a VT Womenpreneurs event. After realizing their complementary skill sets, they partnered to create Kitchen Space, the commercial kitchen operator nested in Momo’s Market.
How has your business changed since the pandemic?
When it became clear that COVID was going to have significant impacts in our daily lives, our first question was how can we continue to serve our community while keeping our customers and staff safe. Momo’s continues to be guided by that question. When Governor Scott issued his stay at home order in March, we chose to shut down our kitchen and close our doors to foot traffic. For seven weeks, we relied on phone orders and walk-ups for curbside pickup.
One of the things we’re most proud of is being able to provide our neighbors with fresh vegetables. In early April, we realized the need for customers access to fresh veggies. Together with one customer and 10 families we created a weekly curated box and called the program Veggie Connect. Every week, customers opted in to get a box of fresh produce for $20 – $25. We grew from the original 10 families to over 85 families per week in late May. It helped us realize the dream of selling fresh vegetables out of a little corner store. We source from local suppliers, foragers and farms. Customer feedback highlighted the novelty, value and convenience, which also reduced their need to go to a conventional grocery store once a week.
Following the guidance provided by the state and training staff, we opened back up with limited hours on May 15th. We were thankful for the Burlington City Council who required masks in all retail spaces in May, this made all retail experiences consistent and supported our staff. Our kitchen opened up June 1st and we have yet to be back to pre-COVID sales.
Everyone Eats came at the perfect time. From a business perspective, the program bolstered the kitchen as we’ve adjusted to a new normal. But the best part is that it aligns with our values to support our community by sourcing from a local farm, and cooking delicious seasonal food for those in need. Everybody Eats is a great example of supporting the entire supply chain with CARES Act funding – from the farm to the commercial kitchen to the food insecure
10% of the ingredients used by Everyone Eats participating restaurants need to be locally-sourced, coming from farms and other food producers located in Vermont. What local farms and food producers are you excited to be working with, and what kinds of local ingredients might you be using for these meals?
As a small women owned market, we have zero contracts with corporations. We are lucky to be able to support small farms and producers. We began our relationship with Pitchfork Farm (literally a mile from the store) when Veggie Connect began and now we are able to increase our weekly purchases. In the past couple weeks, we’ve purchased rainbow chard, butternut squash, lacinato kale, onions, carrots, radishes and beets. Monument Farms has been the dairy go-to for Momo’s from day one, and they are a part of each meal made for Everyone Eats.
What kinds of meals can recipients look forward to receiving and how many are you hoping to send out weekly?
We have a standing order for 60 hot lunches with a Burlington non-profit. For our meals, we focus on vegetable forward, warming, seasonal meals such as a rainbow chard mac & cheese or cheese tortellini with roasted vegetables. The goal is to create a balanced, delicious, and interesting experience.
What is most exciting to you about participating in Everyone Eats?
When Everyone Eats was first announced, it was an obvious match for our skills, capabilities and scale. Furthermore, it allows us to positively contribute to the health of our community members and the well-being of a local farm.
Learn more about Everyone Eats in Chittenden County here.