By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
BOYERTOWN >> There’s a new restaurant in town and plant-based dishes made with locally sourced ingredients will keep customers coming back for more.
The Firefly Café opened at 12 N. Reading Avenue on April 8. People came from inside and outside the borough to try foods such as vegan mac and cheese, avocado toast and a Portobello Philly ‘cheesesteak.’
“I’ve been super excited about this opening,” said Scott Rothenberger of Barto.
Rothenberger said he’s not a vegan or vegetarian but he didn’t miss the meat after eating some of the café’s options with vegan friend Britta Biesecker, of Wayne. Biesecker said the restaurant has been on their radar for quite a while. She said the pulled ‘pork’ sandwich was amazing. The dish is made with barbecued jackfruit on a toasted multi-grain bun with vegan slaw.
“It’s such a nice addition to the town,” Biesecker said.
Married couple Michael Martinez and Loriann Wade opened the café after recently moving to the area to raise their two-year-old son. Wade grew up in Boyertown but has been living in Brooklyn, N.Y. for the past several years where she met her husband. She decided to come back to the borough so her son could be around family and saw there was a need for a vegetarian option in the area.
“There aren’t very many healthy options, much less vegetarian options. And it’s been a dream of ours to open up a café for a long time,” she said.
The café has vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free options. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch five days week Wednesday through Sunday, although hours are subject to change. The place was very popular opening day and Wade said they sold out of many menu items. The first food to sell out was the Philly ‘cheesesteak’ which is made with Portobello mushrooms, sautéed onions and peppers in gravy, and a choice of dairy or non-dairy cheese. Wade said she and her husband aren’t professionally trained but that they cook the same way they do at home.
“We just cook the way we eat basically,” she said. “We just want to put out good, healthy food.”
To help achieve the goal of providing good food, the café uses a lot of locally sourced ingredients. Wade said they put a lot of thought behind where their ingredients come from and that it’s important to use good quality foods. The breads come from Frecon Farms which is right down the street from the café, the greens come from Butter Valley Harvest of Bally and the dairy cheeses come from Valley Milkhouse in Oley.
“It’s really important to us that they (the ingredients) are healthy and of good quality, not just vegetarian,” Wade said.
Wade said they got a huge response from the community when the café opened and a great presence on social media. Both meat eaters and non-meat eaters enjoyed the dishes.
“Although I’m not a vegan and I’m not a vegetarian, I will be here once a week,” Rothenberger said adding that he loves to support local businesses.
Jill Savory of Boyertown said people who aren’t vegan would be very surprised at how much they would like the food.
“I’m not vegan but I love vegan food,” she said.
Wade said some people may be scared of vegan and vegetarian food but that it can “be really delicious comfort food.” She said they wanted to please people that are used to this type of food but also introduce something new to people who aren’t familiar with it.
“Our mission here is not to covert anyone to veganism or vegetarianism. It’s really just to get people to introduce more plant-based eating into their lives,” she said.
Wade said there are benefits from eating vegetarian options even one or two days a week. She has been a vegetarian for 20 years and her husband has been one for about eight years. Their son also enjoys vegetarian meals on a regular basis. Wade said they even cooked his baby food and currently he eats a lot of greens as well as drinks smoothies. The food he’s eating has a lot of immune boosters, she said.
“He’s perfectly healthy and doesn’t get sick,” Wade said.
Firefly is more than a café; it’s also a mini art gallery. One of the walls is used as a rotating gallery of paintings and there is a shelf filled with jewelry, pottery and other structures. Wade said they want to use the restaurant as place where local artists can showcase their creations. Both Wade and her husband are artists and they designed the café themselves. As part of the construction, the high ceilings were exposed as well as the red brick walls. Wade said they we’re going for a cozy, rustic feel.
“We wanted people to feel comfortable spending time here,” she said.
In the future, Wade said they hope to have nights for music. They plan to have special events and are currently available for private parties. The best place to stay up date on any changes about the café is their Facebook page www.facebook.com/fireflycafeboyertown. People can also find out more at their website fireflycafeboyertown.com.