Proprietors Jenifer Helton and Eric Olgers are planning a late January to mid-February opening for their new restaurant at 328 West Main Street in Waverly, and while they loved the original Memaw’s restaurant, they’re excited about preparations for Memaw’s Espresso and Eatery. In fact, their new restaurant has been a dream for the pair since opening their popular Claremont Candle Company in Waverly in September.
“When we first came to look at the place where our candle shop is now, we parked across the street,” Helton explained. “I looked up at the building next door, saw it said Memaw’s out front, and I said, ‘Oh Lord, it’s a sign. Right here is where we need to be.’”
Helton explained that her grandmother, Jeanette Lann, fondly known as Memaw. loved visiting the candle shop whenever she was able until her passing just before Christmas. “So there’s no way we’ll change the name. Has to be Memaw’s”, said Helton
“The candle shop was my dream,” she continued, “but Eric’s was always a restaurant. The folks who had the original Memaw’s could not have been any sweeter, and when we found out the week that we opened that they were going to close, it was sad. But as we constructed the candle shop all summer, we kept thinking about how one thing we really miss in this area is somewhere for breakfast. Finally everything just evolved into, ‘let’s open a restaurant next door.’”
The pair plan “some changes to the décor, using lots of rose, gold, green - sort of a French Industrial look, similar to their candle shop next door. And as the building originally was built as a bank, they plan to have special seating inside the vault.
“We’re going to use my great grandmother’s china there,” Helton said. “That will definitely be a white tablecloth setting, but just when we do dinners.”
Otherwise, the restaurant will be informal, she revealed, and will be heavily focused on breakfast and lunch, with dinner a couple of times a month.
“It will be more like when dinner going out used to be special, back in the day,” she said. “Probably something like prime rib.”
One particularly intriguing offering planned is a beignet flight - a latte served with four homemade beignets – a traditional one with powdered sugar, one stuffed with chocolate, one cinnamon and sugar dusted and one featuring a fresh fruit reduction with strawberries, blueberries or peaches.
“And we are excited about having everything as much as possible farm to table,” she said, “getting meat and produce from local sources. We’ll most likely have croissants and specialty coffees and we’re definitely decided on our Double Dipper breakfast - sausage gravy and chipped beef gravy with French bread. For lunch we’ll be heavily focused on salads with local produce like different kinds of chicken salad, and probably a tomato basil and a chicken soup. We’ve been experimenting with options and haven’t nailed that down yet.”
Helton paused a moment, then said, “The biggest thing for both of us is that when people come into the candle shop, they say feels so welcoming. We want people to have that same feeling – to come in and feel truly welcome even if they only buy a cup of coffee and sit down with the paper or a book or come in with their family. I come from a very tight-knit, loving family, and Eric’s family is the same way – like that hostess/entertainment ‘gene’ is instilled in both of us. It sounds cheesy, but we want to capture that same feeling of - well, everything we did in the candle shop we built out of love, and we want people to feel that. Nothing makes either of us happier than when people say, ‘I just want to stay here forever! Don’t want to leave!’ It’s all about growing a community.”
“I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else,” she added. “People thought we were nuts for opening Claremont Candle Company here, but I can’t imagine being anywhere more welcoming or supportive. It’s not something you expect to see in a small town – a candle shop – and I feel like it’ll be the same with Memaw’s Espresso and Eatery.”
Planned hours for Memaw’s Espresso and Eatery at 328 West Main Street in Waverly are 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with Sunday having a brunch-style menu.