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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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by Jessica Brophy
Deer Isle-Stonington High School senior Amber Jones has wanted to run a café for as long as she can remember.
“Me and one of my friends have always wanted to run a café, one that would be open really early for fishermen,” said Jones.
Jones is getting a trial run of her dream by working with Kyra Alex, owner of Lily’s Café in Stonington, for a six-week “pop-up bistro.”
The Sassy Pumpkin Bistro will be held Wednesdays through November from about noon to 2 p.m. at Lily’s, featuring a fixed-price menu of a soup, salad, entrée and dessert or an a la carte menu, where patrons can pick out what they would like.
The bistro is part of Jones’ Senior Exhibition, a hands-on project required to graduate. Alex is serving as mentor to Jones and guiding her through the process of applying for grant money for startup costs, planning a menu, forecasting costs and more.
Jones, who wants to attend culinary arts school after graduation, said the planning for the project has been fun. For instance, she is including family recipes such as Offshore Fish Casserole, developed by her father on the boat while out at sea, and served in her family for years.
On Wednesday, October 17, she held a “soft opening” for family and a few individuals involved with Ready by 21. Jones served the Offshore Fish Casserole, as well as a potato, cheese and chili soup, a house salad, a garden tomato, fresh basil and herbed cheese flatbread sandwich, and a dessert of pumpkin pudding. The meal was well received.
Jones received a $150 grant from the Island Education Foundation, which did not offset all of the startup costs. Currently she is seeking funding from other Island nonprofits.
“That’s an important thing to realize,” said Alex. “That you can’t just start, you have to have capital and a plan.”
Reservations will need to be made to attend the Sassy Pumpkin, so Jones can prepare the right amount of food. To make a reservation, call Lily’s at 367-5936.