Meyers returns to his cooking roots with Savory Spoon
FREDERIKA, Iowa —Opening Savory Spoon Cafe & Catering in Frederika allowed Chris Meyers to return to his cooking roots.
Meyers has many experiences in the food service industry starting in high school as a cook at Rolinger's in Waterloo. He was a cook in a stint in the Marine Corps and as night chef for North Bank Cafe in Waterloo where he met his wife, Sheryl, who was a server.
He received a degree in advanced occupational studies from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., managed several Iowa restaurants and banquet facilities, won culinary competitions and has many years of catering experience. Most recently, he was corporate chef for Barmuda in Cedar Falls, which owns several restaurant and bar venues.
"I spent so much time working for other people and I was getting kind of burned out," Meyers said. "I wasn't doing that much cooking any more, and I was losing my passion for what I did. This gives me a chance to gain back my love and appreciation for food."
Meyers looked for a kitchen to start a catering business in Cedar Falls and Waterloo but couldn't find anything affordable. When he looked in the surrounding communities, he learned about the Frederika location from friend, Carl Blake.
"This was almost a turnkey operation that was closed for three years," Meyers said.
His initial plan was to start catering and eventually open an eatery, but town residents encouraged him to open the cafe.
"People kept asking me when I was going to open," Meyers said. "The local people have been tremendous."
Savory Spoon opened May 2 for breakfast. Lunch hours will be added in June, but if someone comes in, Meyers will cook them something to eat.
In addition to great support from Frederika, customers come from all over the area. He also is taking catering jobs.
"I'll do anything from brown bag lunches to a sit-down dinner with black-tie waiters," he said. "Graduations, weddings, banquets. We can do it."
Meyers cooks everything from scratch and buys as much locally grown food as possible. Meats come from the Frederika and Janesville lockers, dairy products from Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy in Hudson, eggs from Cedar Ridge Farm in Elgin and house coffee from Sidecar Coffee Roasters in Cedar Falls.
His food distributor, Northern Lights from Fort Dodge, works with smaller operations. He wants to buy locally raised fruits and vegetables and plans an herb garden out back. He's looking for a local baker for breads, but he makes "Grandma Schuler's Cinnamon Rolls," based on Sheryl's grandmother's recipe.
"Sheryl could always tell when her grandma was making cinnamon rolls because when she walking home from school she could smell them three blocks away, and as she got closer, she'd see cop cars lining the streets. Her father was a police officer, and all the police would come for cinnamon rolls," Meyers said.
Savory Spoon is painted bright orange and yellow and decorated with photos of roosters, flowers, chickens and historic photos of Frederika.
"Sheryl did the decorating," he said. "She has a real gift."
Meyers operates with one part-timer in the kitchen and two servers, and family assist when they can. Sheryl works full time at L & N Transportation Services in Cedar Falls, waits tables on weekends and also does the books. Their children, Mason, 20, a student at the University of Northern Iowa, and Lauren, 17, a student at West High in Waterloo, pitched in for the recent grand opening.
A local favorite, Rinderwurst, a sausage patty made with beef, is on the menu. Other selections are eggs, meat, potatoes, pancakes and French toast. Omelets are popular, and a variety of skillets including sirloin steak, chicken fried steak and eggs benedict are featured.
The lunch menu will include sandwiches and comfort foods like meat loaf and hot beef, with some special twists.
"I'm gauging it on what local people want," he said.