After Kendall Bajek added salads to the menu at her Doylestown restaurant, Empanada Mama, she reached a quick conclusion.
Response was so great that, “Clearly there was a need for decent takeout salads in the area,” she said.
Since the menu at Empanada Mama was almost exclusively empanadas and the tiny kitchen couldn’t add much more, she started looking for another location.
Just around the corner from her restaurant was another pint-sized eatery, which happened to be vacant. She took it over and opened Nourish by Mama on East State Street last November. The kitchen there also was small but large enough for her to craft a menu of soups, sandwiches, smoothies, grain bowls, toasts and egg dishes.
The response has been warm and welcoming.
“We added more vegan and vegetarian options,” she said, plus breakfast all day. Now she has customers who order from both restaurants. “They order lunch here (at Nourish) and empanadas for dinner,” she said. They also get families where the parents order at Nourish and the kids choose empanadas, she said.
Each restaurant has a few seats for eat-in customers, and during the warm weather months they share outdoor tables that are positioned behind the two restaurants, which are located almost back-to-back.
Bajek learned to make empanadas when she was living in Buenos Aires. “I love South American food,” she said, and many of her dishes are fusions of ethnic cuisines.
When she returned to the U.S. after her time in Argentina, she started making empanadas for family and friends. When people wanted to pay her to make them, she opened Empanada Mama, which quickly became a success.
The menu at Nourish changes regularly, “based on what we want to eat,” she said, and what’s in season. She uses the freshest and best ingredients she can find, and “We take zero shortcuts,” she said.
Her breakfast wraps are especially popular, starting with her Mexican breakfast burrito which contains eggs, black beans, tomatoes, cheddar and scallions with avocado sauce. A vegan version replaces the eggs with tofu. Other breakfast dishes are a pesto egg wrap, spinach and feta wrap and build-your-own scramble or breakfast wrap.
The soups at Nourish are popular, she said, led by a Thai sweet potato and carrot bisque, which is garnished with pepitas and cilantro.
Bajek credits her success to hiring good employees. “I choose people who love food,” she said.
Her next goal is to open a second Empanada Mama. In the meantime,
“We just keep working hard,” she said.