Damfino’s Cafe, Market & Bakery quietly celebrated its first anniversary in downtown Quincy on December 15 amongst the holiday festivities.
Located on the increasingly-bustling Courthouse Square in downtown Quincy (18 North Adams Street), the farm-to-table establishment has succeeded in increasing local access to local, healthy food in a community-centered environment while supporting local, small-scale farms and producers.
To celebrate the store’s first anniversary, Damfino’s is offering 15 percent off one house-made bakery or case item through the month of March.
Guests can take advantage of this offer by mentioning the “First Anniversary” offer at checkout in the store.
The origins of Damfino’s go back to when Lucy and Fred Harris partnered with Max and Cassandra Gross to open a restaurant centered on their shared vision of providing real food sourced from the local region.
As the owners refined their ideas for how to best bring quality food at an affordable price, they envisioned a restaurant featuring a focused, streamlined, from-scratch menu alongside a grocery-style market.
“The first twelve months were an exhilarating experience, and we have learned a great deal,” said Max Gross, chef and manager. “The opportunity to engage with this community and create lasting partnerships with our producers has been rewarding,” the Culinary Institute of America graduate added.
Throughout the restaurant’s first year of operation, management built relationships with some of the region’s most interesting and well-known producers, including Full Earth Farm in Quincy, and Gluten Free Garage and Longview Farms in Havana.
As a member of the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, the restaurant also began sharing house-made breads, pastries and other items through the Red Hills online farmer’s market.
From the first day of operation, Chef Max Gross decided that there would always be plentiful vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options integrated into the menu.
Gross was raised in a vegetarian household and received training on special diets during his schooling.
Although the region is proudly rooted in Southern traditions around hunting and farm-raised meat products, the owners were pleasantly surprised at how many vegans and vegetarians live in Gadsden County.
Offering vegan and vegetarian fare (with an emphasis on organic, non-GMO locally grown vegetables) and using interesting new recipes has provided customers the opportunity to appreciate not only the value of such a diet, but also discounted the commonly-held belief that such dishes could not be delicious.
In January 2018, Damfino’s began a partnership with the Robert F. Munroe High School in Quincy to assist in the practical education of its students in restaurant operation and basic business concepts.
Twice a week, students in a culinary arts class visit the restaurant and participate in hands-on learning under the instruction of Chef Max Gross.
“The idea is to foster an entrepreneurial drive in our local students,” said Gross. “We want students to come away with basic cooking skills, an interest in the craft, and a desire to invest in our community.”
The Damfino’s team is busy strategizing for the upcoming year.
Plans include offering additional evening and weekend events; increasing the selection of market goods; and providing diverse workshops and training classes to the public.
“We embarked on this project not only because we thought that Quincy needed a locally-sourced restaurant, but also in an attempt to be a catalyst for the rejuvenation of Quincy’s Courthouse Square, in partnership with Downtown Quincy,” said Fred Harris. “We think that the future holds great opportunity for Damfino’s, for Quincy, and for the region as a whole, and I’m looking forward to seeing downtown Quincy again become a vibrant commercial area drawing people from throughout our region and providing jobs for our youth.”
For more information about Damfino’s, check its website, www.damfinos.com; Facebook (@Damfinos) or Instagram (DamfinosCafe).
By Cassandre Gross