Update -- 5:50 p.m. with Judy Hysek's comments
The Batavia Development Corporation Board of Directors this morning approved a $30,000 grant/loan package for Judy Hysek’s EDEN vegan restaurant, the second start-up business at freshLAB in the former JJ Newberry building on Main Street in downtown Batavia.
“Judy’s very distinctly different concept, complete business plan, unwavering pledge to regional ingredient sourcing and commitment to start a restaurant earned her the freshLAB opportunity,” BDC Executive Director Julie Pacatte said.
The restaurant will be situated with Eli Fish Brewing Company, which was the first start-up as the anchor tenant.
The announcement was welcome news to Hysek, who went through a six-month process – starting with the first-ever freshLAB Foodie Challenge in September and followed by a five-month restaurant ownership Boot Camp taught by a variety of respected industry representatives.
“Julie had left me a voicemail saying I was selected and I think I started shaking a little when I was listening to it,” said Hysek, who noted that her husband, Chris, and she have been wanting to start something of their own for the past three or four years. “I’m honestly very honored to have been selected as all of the other contestants are very talented and hard-working.”
BDC officials will be approving a third business for the space, with an anticipated announcement in the coming weeks and opening expected in May.
Pacatte said that dozens of community volunteers participated throughout the process, which also involved more tastings, menu critiques and business plan evaluations.
“A local selection committee reviewed freshLAB expectations along with all related experiences, scoring, feedback and business plan presentations to determine that Judy’s EDEN vegan restaurant was a great fit for our freshLAB restaurant incubator,” she said.
Hysek said that she had been running a small nonprofit gift shop in Rochester for a few years and when they moved back to Batavia, they wanted to do something here.
“We took a small business class at GCC and met Barb Shine last year. She mentioned the freshLab back then and we thought it might be a possibility,” she said.
“Then a few months later we took a tour of the Harvester building and met Julie Pacatte, who also encouraged us to look into the Foodie Challenge for the freshLab space. So we gave it a shot, received some really great feedback and a ton of encouragement and support, and here we are.”
Hysek said the menu features “Not Dogs” made from marinated and grilled carrots that take on the taste of their toppings.
“It’s a much lighter alternative to a regular hot dog and these don’t leave you feeling bogged down,” she said. “My favorite toppings are spicy brown mustard and carmelized onions, but we’ll have a lot of other toppings for customers to choose from as well.”
She said other choices include “great tasting bar food” such as poutine, cauliflower wings and nachos, as well as house-made cheeses, weekly and seasonal specials, a couple of dessert choices, house made Kombucha, lemonades, and fresh pressed juices.
The entire menu is vegan (no animal products).
The tentative timeline for EDEN begins this month with the purchase of specialty equipment, BDC-sponsored training with Chef Tracy prior to opening and the café set-up, with tentative opening and ribbon cutting on April 22 (Earth Day).
Hysek said her family, including her husband, father and brother, are very supportive. She said she plans to be open noon to 9 p.m. every day except Tuesday to start and take it from there. Her goal, after 18 to 24 months at freshLAB, is to move into a more permanent space in Batavia and further expand the menu.
Eli Fish Brewing Company opened for business this week.