By Rich Place
A relatively new way to grab-and-go nutritious and delicious meals has made its way into two downtown Springville businesses.
Fresh Smart Cafe, led by chef Erin Horton, can now be found inside Springville Health & Fitness, located at 243 West Main St. next to Papa Jake’s, and at Fresh Floral and Gifts at 27 East Main Street.
From the favorite trail run salad, which Horton said she can’t make enough of, to the chicken wrap, the products are prepared ready to eat, allowing customers short on time to walk into the local businesses and grab-and-go.
“It’s nice to have some stuff here for the folks who work in the village — a quick run down the road to pick something up,” Horton said. “It puts something into the stores that adds an element of convenience for customers.”
A lifelong foodie, Horton also owns and operates Edible Crush Catering, which caters events both locally and in the Buffalo area. In fact, she’ll be catering the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner held this weekend.
And she balances that with Fresh Smart Café, which requires her to develop the menus, prepare and package the food and deliver it to the host businesses, which also includes a third location at Nature’s Remedy in Ellicottville.
“I alternate days,” she said while preparing a tray of bacon and a container of kale from her commercial kitchen on East Main Street in Springville. “I will come down generally on Monday and I’ll spend the day prepping and cooking. On Tuesday, we’ll package and deliver.
“On Wednesday, depending on how it needs to go, I’m (also) out delivering to the community. We have systems in place to communicate inventory levels and rotation of food. Based on that, I prepare, deliver and make sure everything is full and fresh.”
The idea started in cooperation with Spring Creek Athletic Club late last spring before Horton just this month moved the café to Springville Health and Fitness. She also added the menu this month at Fresh Floral and Gifts.
Previously working out of Buffalo until mid-summer, Horton now lives and works right in Springville. She is a 2000 graduate of Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and welcomed the opportunity recently to be more independent by operating these two similar food businesses.
“All I know is food, that’s all I’ve ever done,” she said. “I love people. I love making people happy and food makes people happy. When you are a chef, 99 percent of the time people are happy to see you.
“It’s what I love; I love to play with food,” she added. “Some people love to play with graphics, some people love to play with fabric and material; food is my medium and the only one I know and I love it.”
And when it comes to food, Horton is dedicated to making it not only healthy, but also tasty. As she spoke during an interview last week, she took a handful of kale out of a container on the counter.
“Do you like kale?” she asked about the arguably unpopular vegetable. “I make a cilantro vinaigrette and I drizzle it on there and it marinates the kale pretty quick. That actually tastes really good and it’s healthy for you. I guess that’s my main goal.
“I like to make things healthy, fresh and delicious and you could surprise yourself if you try something you don’t normally try.”
She said she uses whole grain, healthy breads and usually lean meats like chicken and turkey breast. And she uses lots of vegetables, often complemented with a healthy dressing.
“I make the sauces, which I think make them stand apart from the rest,” she said. “I use mostly nonfat Greek yogurt to make a mock mayo, so it’s a lot healthier that way.”
The dressings and marinades are all gluten-free, she said, and she has gluten-free options as long as orders are made in advance. Menus at the location change based on demand and consumer preferences.
Grab-and-go items at both Springville Health and Fitness and Fresh Floral and Gifts are available during business hours at each location. For additional information, visit facebook.com/freshsmartcafe.