Saturday was not only the start of a new month, but also a “fresh” start for a new catering venture within Eli Fish Brewing Company.
Her nearly two decades of cooking, over three years of catering, and her attendance at various summer events have propelled Dannielle Lumpkin into her own niche as Mama Dee’z Kitchen at 109 Main St., Batavia.
“We did a trial run yesterday where we did a soft open, and it went very, very well. Just learning the ins and outs, from catering to owning a restaurant, is a big, big difference. But we had a lot of support from our kitchen staff here, the chef here, Sam was very helpful. Matty was very helpful with anything I needed to know. And that is just a learning experience. I’m very excited for what the future holds,” said Lumpkin at his grand opening on Saturday.
“So just before COVID we had started the process of finding a building and then COVID was there. A lot of things were really difficult. And so once things started to improve, that was when, I felt, for me to try and find something to open up with. Batavia doesn’t really have a lot of diversity when it comes to dining options, and I wanted to be able to bring that to Batavia. So I think it will be a staple in Batavia because we can offer a different choice of food from different cultures.
As friends and family flocked to the backyard area where Mama Dee’z sits at Eli Fish, Lumpkin and his crew of family members pulled golden fried chicken out of a skillet to serve. Its specialties are jerk meats, homemade sauces, Caribbean flavors and soul food, but with an extensive menu that also includes shaved rib eye steak, a mixture of cheeses, peppers and onions wrapped in a egg roll wrap appetizer, caribbean alfredo pasta with chicken or shrimp, mac and cheese, sweet bread and a chicken wing dinner.
The Batavia resident had her eye on Eli Fish some time ago, as it has already served as successful incubator space for three others, including Eden Cafe & Bakeshop, Eat Well Grill and Matty’s Pizza. The incubator concept was first developed in the late 1950s at the Harvester Center in Batavia, and was a more recent venture for the downtown area. Lumpkin had to purchase his inventory of food and supplies, however, the kitchen was ready to go with equipment and appliances.
It would have been much more expensive for her to do it all on her own, said Matt Gray, entrepreneur and co-owner of Eli Fish.
“It’s a second generation restaurant coming, it’s coming to where the Eden cafe used to be and has been successfully moved to downtown Ellicott Street and Liberty. So it’s great to offer the same space again to another entrepreneur/restorer to add to the business here. Because of the menu, diversity always helps,” Gray said.
“For a very, very small amount of money up front, they can come in and really fulfill their dream, which would normally cost upwards of six figures, to buy your gear and everything you need to stock up. Here , it’s really very minimal,” he said. “And they can come for a shorter period, work out their business plan, figure out what kind of food they really want to serve, what their guests are looking for, and hopefully make that leap to another brick location. and mortar by themselves.
Lumpkin has signed a six-month contract and will be open the same hours as Eli Fish: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
While preparing for the grand opening day and celebrating his dream come true, Lumpkin served his food to Eli Fish’s staff, which was “fantastic,” Gray said. It adds “another level of service” for the brewery, he said. And as the Lumpkin family, which includes husband Myron, continues to build their business, Gray and other staff members are available for advice, suggestions and feedback.
“We work together as much as we can,” he said.
Business Improvement District Executive Director Shannon Maute and Chamber of Commerce Acting Director Tom Turnbull were also on hand with congratulations and praise for the addition of another facility to the downtown area. town.
“It really evolved from the Fresh Lab experiment they did a couple of years ago, where we had a couple of successful restaurants come out of here… And that’s just the next expansion,” said Turnbull. “I was lucky enough to meet Dannelle and Myron, and the food looks fantastic. I can’t wait to try it. It’s something unique and I think it brings a different flavor, without pun intended, downtown Batavia and Genesee County It’s great to see another restaurant open And it’s such a great opportunity here to do it as an incubator restaurant where you don’t have all the expense of a full-fledged restaurant, but you can learn, and under Matt Gray, enjoy it.
Maute got to know Dannelle and learned of her determination, energy and creative cooking skills. Not only has Dannielle now placed another restaurant on the downtown map, but she has joined the BID committees and is “a great addition to BID,” Maute said.
“I’m just here to support Danny and his adventure… It’s huge for BID, it’s something so different. We have never eaten this before, and having this quality of food and this style of food is going to be just fine. Batavia is really changing, and that goes with the times,” said Maute. “And now you can come downtown and get different food, and you don’t get the same cookie-cutter food. Eli Fish was one of the first people to do that with his style of d “different foods. So, Mama Dee’z fits in perfectly with different styles of foods. She’s determined to do well. I have no doubt that she’s going to do really well here and then, eventually, we will.” will help get into a brick and mortar.
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Top Photo: Danielle Lumpkin, with her husband Myron and their family, celebrate the grand opening of Mama Dee’z on Saturday inside Eli Fish Brewing Company at 109 Main St., Batavia; Danielle gets ready to serve chicken; showing off the new Mama Dee’z logo. Photos by Joanne Beck.