- by Lisa Monti
Fans of Starfish Cafe, the endearing eatery offering real-world training and healthy, tasty meals, is about to open in its new location at 10408 Highway 603. The June 5 opening celebration happily coincides exactly with the cafe’s 8th birthday.
Since the funky Main Street location closed 14 months ago due to COVID restrictions, the driving forces behind the nonprofit cafe have been converting the old Cuz’s restaurant into the new Starfish.
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“There’s a lot of the old Starfish there,” Di said of the new digs, “But a lot of things are different.” Regulars will recognize artistic touches from the original location, which seems tiny compared to the 2,500-square-foot upstairs. And the kitchen includes a ten-burner stove.
“Our students have never had the opportunity to work in a commercial kitchen,” Di said.
Also new will be the emphasis on plant-based dishes and lots of Greek flavors with “Yeeros.” Executive chef Zac Fillhart worked in a Greek restaurant and will be putting his experience into such items as hummus, tzatziki, pastitsio and moussaka. Some dishes will be gluten-free and skip the MSG, in keeping with Starfish’s tasty but healthy options.
“We’ll still have specials and fun stuff,” Di said. Look for pizza and spaghetti night, grass-fed beef burgers with fresh-cut fries, and a version of a New York sandwich called “beef on weck,” a Yankee version of a roast beef poboy on a special roll topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt. “Every day will be a little different,” Di promises.
Another change at the new Starfish: Pay-what-you-want is being replaced by “reasonable local market pricing,” Di says. “We are committed to starting our workers out with a reasonable salary, not minimum wage.”
Menu prices will also make it possible for the nonprofit to give a travel stipend and work incentive to students. Also, revenue from Starfish will support the Mary Kay Deen Community Education Center and the Mobile Food Pantry, with the King’s Kitchen slated to begin in the fall. The mobile pantry will travel to outlying areas in Hancock County for those unable or without transportation to travel for food.
Patrons will also have opportunity to pay it forward, Di says. Random and intentional kindness always welcome!
The June 5 birthday party will be held from 2 to 6 pm and feature popular pitmaster Kevin Avery’s barbecue and DJ entertainment.
Starting June 10, Starfish Cafe will be open Thursdays from 11 am to 7 pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 8 pm.