When The Pantry vegetarian restaurant shut down after 40 years at the Glebe Community Centre (GCC), it left a big hole. Neighbours missed the shabby-chic meeting spot and wondered what would happen next. Their wait is now over, with gcCafé set to open its doors on October 11.
GCC kitchen manager Stephanie Stewart takes over the reins as GM of the 25-seat gcCafé. The busy chef, who trained at Algonquin College’s culinary program and has managed the kitchens at GCC since 2009, teams up with Jordyn Hodder, who will be in the kitchen day to day.
City Bites Insider sat down with Stewart just days ahead of the launch to learn more about her ambitious plans.
You don’t officially open until October 11, but I hear you’re hosting an open house on October 6.
[About the open house] The plan is to have hors d’oeuvres, charcuterie, and fruit plates so people can have a bite or two while checking out the restaurant. Everyone’s welcome — we’ll have some sample menus around, too, so people get a sense of what we’re planning.
You plan to start by serving lunches, then expand. How will that work?
Yes, we’ll have a sit-down lunch from 11:30am – 2:30pm. The plan is to slowly expand our hours over the next few months, adding a breakfast takeout with breakfast bowls and breakfast sandwiches, a later-morning coffee and muffin option, and even dinners to go.
Dinners to go?
There are so many kids at the Glebe Community Centre in after-school programs, so pre-packed dinners seem like a great option. On busy nights, parents can grab their kids after school and pick up dinner at the same time.
The Pantry, which was formerly in this spot, was a beloved mainstay at the Glebe Community Centre for 40 years. What did you keep and what have you changed?
The menu has obviously changed, but we’re still serving tea and healthy lunches, with lots of vegetarian options. What will change is that we will serve menu items with ethically sourced meat.
Give us a hint as to what people can expect on the lunch menu.
We’re pretty excited about the Moroccan chicken stew and the aubergine green curry. And we’ll definitely be doing a lot of brothy soups as the weather gets colder, as well as pot pies and slow-cooked foods. For lighter lunches, there will be quiches, salads, and paninis.
The place looks great! Tell me about the renovation.
It was done quickly! We had to wait until all the kids’ summer programs were over before we could renovate, so the whole project was done in a month. We maintained the coziness of The Pantry, but modernized. The shades we used on the walls, cabinetry, and doorframes are inspired by the colours on the GNAG [Glebe Neighbourhood Activity Group] logo. The plan is to showcase local artists on the walls and, eventually, pottery made by students taking classes at the community centre.
What else can people should look forward to?
Keep checking the website, since we’ll be expanding beyond lunches once things settle down and we find a rhythm. We also plan to open the gcCafé when the community centre holds special events, such as the Glebe Fall Craft & Artisan Fair [November 18-20], so people will be able to grab home-baked goods and drinks.