Despite Winter’s Fury, a Fantastic Four Months and Spring Surprises

March 25, 2014

It is true that this winter, which officially ended last week but keeps its icy grips on us with bitter cold mornings and threats of more snow, has gone on far too long. While it feels like this record-setting winter has lasted forever, it’s also hard to believe The Tasting Room has been open four months this week.

It seems like just yesterday we were scrambling with building inspectors and pushing out Thanksgiving dinner orders from JPM Catering’s brand new kitchen and cafe at 8 E Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore. While the weather has been hard on all of us — as well as most other businesses in the region — the daily grind was offset by our regular customers who we have enjoyed getting to know or reconnecting with enjoying great food together.

. For more than three years JPM Catering’s home was in the middle of a residential Manayunk neighborhood and retail was not an option. Our move to Ardmore was as much about wanting to be a part of a diverse and growing community as it was about being closer to our home. We owe a great deal of gratitude to our new neighbors on and around Lancaster Ave., many of whom are regular customers or partners of The Tasting Room and JPM.

They include:

— Our healthy pals at Live Well Holistic

— The amazing couple and family behind Alexander Horn & Co.

— The adventurous men and women of Swain Destinations

— The good-looking ladies at Salon 31, Rae and Co. and Coco Blue Nail & Spa

— Our dedicated friends at the breastcancer.org office and Silver & Silver

— Our artistic advocates at The Mud Room and Calliope Music

— Our partners at Lulu’s Casita, Gregory FCA and the Ardmore Initiative

WHEN CUSTOMERS LIKE SOMETHING, they really like it. Take our Butternut Squash Carrot Soup, for example. We pulled it from our menu when we switched from fall to winter dishes and many of our regulars — some of whom called it the best soup they’ve ever tasted — reacted with sad faces. So a couple weeks later we brought it back and will keep it on our menu as often as we can.

FEEDBACK IS IMPORTANT TO US. When a customer called us early on to ask about side vegetables she could order to serve with the chicken and meatballs she planned on ordering, she expressed disappointment that we didn’t have more veggie sides. While we did offer Kale Salad and Cabbage Slaw, we understood what she was driving at. So when we flipped to our winter menu, we added two new veggie sides — Triple Seed Cauliflower and Honey-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, both of which have proven to be popular.

WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO. Operating a small business like ours often seems like a sprint, but it is indeed a marathon (a long one, with any luck). We are steadfast in our commitment to bring gourmet quality, healthy and fresh food that is affordable to Ardmore on a daily basis. One tough winter hasn’t changed that. Like everyone, we’re looking forward to spring-like weather so we can get outside more and meet new people and offer samples to the many commuters, shoppers and residents out for a stroll in Ardmore’s Historic District. We’re also hoping to offer periodic entertainment and limited outdoor seating, and we’ll be part of some exciting local events that we’ll be announcing in the coming weeks. And in case you haven’t yet noticed, you’re reading this on The Tasting Room’s brand new website. Previously part of our existing JPM Catering site, we felt The Tasting Room needed its own space to breathe and live, and we hope you find it useful.

With winter hopefully mostly behind us after yesterday’s now, it’s a good time for bringing things to life.

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