SHERIDAN — Every year, Sheridan’s food scene seems to turn up the heat. New restaurants and cafes are opening; chefs are focusing more on fresh ingredients; and small-batch coffee roasters, ice cream churners and microgreen cultivators are filling the farmers markets.
And just a block off the beaten path of Main Street, another culinary project is rolling out creative, satisfying options in a surprising venue: the Grab ‘N Go at The Hub on Smith.
Located just past the front doors of the senior center, the Grab ‘N Go greets visitors with all the staples of a good cafe: comfy chairs and couches, baskets of books and puzzles, solid outlet access — even a crackling fireplace. Friendly baristas sling an array of tea and coffee drinks; baked goods; and a full breakfast and lunch menu of made-to-order sandwiches, take-away grain bowls and more. Regulars chat, read newspapers and work on laptops.
This is not the scene of a typical senior center eatery, which was intentional, explained Carmen Rideout, executive director of The Hub. The cafe, which operates separately from the seniors’ dining room, opened in September 2017 as part of the nonprofit’s renovation and rebranding.
“Before, people walked in and saw a front desk,” Rideout said. “We wanted to make it more accessible to people of all ages and remove the stigma of what ‘senior centers’ should look like. [The Grab ‘N Go] has created a great focal point when you first come in — a different vibe than we had before.”
In addition to fostering a new environment to cross generational divides, the cafe was created to generate extra revenue. Like the Green Boomerang, a thrift store on Main Street, all proceeds after expenses are directly allocated to The Hub’s programs, which support seniors in the community with in-home health aid, a slate of arts and activities, free transportation and more.
“The Grab ‘N Go is really just a great cafe in town that supports a wonderful cause,” said Katie Rideout, the Grab ‘N Go developer (and Carmen Rideout’s daughter).
The cafe offers a fresh take on food that mirrors the national trend of healthy “fast-casual” restaurants, thanks to the menu — which was inspired by Katie Rideout’s coast-to-coast experiences in the food industry — and the vision of Executive Chef Plus Dan Cole.
“Our philosophy is to focus on fresh homegrown foods that are good and clean, with less stuff out of cans,” said Cole, who oversees all of The Hub’s dining and facility operations.
“We wanted something that was quick but also tasty and healthy and colorful,” added Katie Rideout. “Hand-crafted is what we’re going for.”
The resulting recipes are deceptively creative in their simplicity. At first glance, the breakfast favorite is a standard burrito, until you taste the rich spice of chorizo. The California Bowl features whole ingredients — roasted sweet potato, beet, avocado, mixed grains and greens — but gets an extra kick from Katie Rideout’s housemade honey miso dressing. The daily selection of treats include freshly baked cookies and banana bread, but you ought not overlook the bright flavors of the scones baked with local rhubarb.
As The Hub team hoped, the consistent quality and creativity of the food has drawn a crowd of regulars beyond seniors.
“A lot of high school kids come in because it’s so cheap, so good and so close to everything,” Cole observed. “We also see a lot of people (in their 20s, 30s and 40s) who enjoy the healthier alternative. Our generation would rather eat more clean, straight-from-the-earth foods — it’s the way to go.”
The cafe’s infusion of younger generations brightens the daily life of the seniors who frequent the nonprofit.
“We are following our mission, which is to celebrate and embrace older adults for the betterment of our community,” Carmen Rideout said. “Older people have an important role in our community, and we want to lift them up and give them a nice space to be connected with everybody. We don’t want to isolate people because of age.”
The Grab ‘N Go at The Hub is located at 211 Smith St. and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.