Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Persephone’s Café owner, Persephone Brown. The café itself is adorable with the small cozy feel I prefer my cafes to have. The menu is small, but does the trick for breakfasts, snacks or lunches. Just know that what you give up in menu choices you gain in over all quality. Persephone is a blogger herself, which automatically gives her cool points. She pours craftsmanship in products and it shows. I can speak from experience; her baked good are delicious (and she knows it, with the brownie’s name being “The Most Amazing Brownie”). The café scores a 9/10 for authenticity and attention to detail.
New Kid on The Block
When you stroll down Dodge Street this summer, you come across something new. Persephone’s is now open for business occupying the space previously held by Juice n’ Java. Owner Persephone Brown sat down to answer a few questions about her background and the café.
What brought you to Block Island?
I came here at 19, as a summer employee and have moved away, come back and now have been a year round resident for 9 years. My first job was Aldo’s, I worked at The Atlantic and then worked at Eli’s for 8 years. And I baked for Juice n’ Java and got involved with the owners.
Well when I baked for Juice n’ Java, I got into making food for other people and started making the things similar to what I have here; baked goods, packaged salads. Then I went to school for nutrition, and that’s when I started making more whole foods, and gluten free baked goods and using alternative ingredients. I have been a health coach on the island and online for the past 7 years, guiding cleanses and coaching people on eating healthy. I have gone online to expand, a lot of people on the island still do them [the cleanses], but a lot are from all over.
How do you bring you background in nutrition into the foods sold at the café?
When I was guiding the cleanses [before], I started cooking for the cleanse groups and making food they could pick up on the island. Then 3 years ago I started cooking for the Farmer’s Market. That’s where I started making packaged salads and gluten free baked goods on a regular basis.
Is there a certain mantra you follow with your combination of nutrition and the food that you produce?
My goal has been to not just make healthy food, but to make bright flavors and colors. I have a hashtag that I use online which is #iloveprettyfood. I try to make food that not only tastes good, but is also very ascetically pleasing by using a lot of different color, and letting that be my guide in how I make food.
When it came to opening the café, were there any difficulties in your opening?
Having been given permission to carry on the name Juice n’ Java, it was a difficult decision to make to change the name. Having already the business through the Farmer’s Market, ultimately I felt I wanted to honor both businesses, and the original owner of Juice n’ Java Michael Shields.
How did you come to acquire the space?
When the property was left open, the building owner Carolyn encouraged me to take it. I had a 5 month old at the time and said no originally. But she persisted and supported me. The publics support of my existing business helped push me towards the decision to open the café just this March.
Is there a certain style or vibe you are aiming for within the café?
Relaxed, but happy environment is the way I would like customers to think of the space. I want it to be welcoming, a place to sit, a gathering place for the community. That’s why I have real plates and silverware. That’s one thing Juice n’ Java was that I want to maintain, a place where people come to meet and talk.
Are there any food trends you see on the island?
I think that with the island’s popularity growing and with more people staying on the island for the entire season (or longer stays), people want healthy food. The shift to whole foods is in part demand for real food that one can eat day after day.
What are the most popular food items thus far?
For breakfast, we offer a daily frittata, which comes with dressed arugula and sourdough toast. Our gluten free brownies, and Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Muffins are very popular. And the freshly made Kale Salad with strawberries, red onion, toasted almonds and honey balsamic is a trendy choice for lunch. Soon I’ll be adding egg sandwiches and different types of salads to the menu.
Persephone’s Kitchen is located at 235 Dodge Street (the former home to Juice n’ Java). It accepts major credit cards, and offers Wi-Fi. The café is open daily from 7am-2pm.