Farm-Fresh Breakfast: New restaurant will modernize an old concept

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M any people would agree that there aren’t many independent restaurants in Peoria that serve a good, hearty breakfast. There are none who care to make all the food fresh from the farm, said Dustin Allen.

That’s why Allen and his wife Ashley, owners of Edge by Chef Dustin Allen, the fine dining restaurant at Junction City, are ready to open a new diner that will follow the farm-to-table concept that Edge does.

“We want to offer Peoria another farm-to-table option. Right now it’s only available for dinner in Peoria. Harvest Café in Delavan is the only place in the immediate area that serves strictly farm-to-table fare for breakfast and lunch. We want to fill that gap in Peoria,” Allen said.

The restaurant, which will open in early April, will be called Fresh Table. It will be located at 201 E. Lake St., in the space currently occupied by Over Easy Cafe, which is where the Allens stop for breakfast whenever they decide to go out for the first meal of the day.

They were approached a few months ago by the owner of Over Easy Café about taking over the small diner. “We didn’t think very long about it because we knew there was a need for this type of place for breakfast and lunch. We weren’t looking for a place, but the place found us,” he said.

Other than the name on the restaurant, there won’t be many changes visible that regular Over Easy Café customers will notice. The Allens don’t plan to make a lot of changes to the décor or furnishings.

“It already has a great small-town diner feel to it and I don’t want to lose that. We want it to be casual, a family-friendly diner with high quality food,” he said.

That the diner could be switched without much work was another important factor in their decision to make the deal, he said. “This is a turn-key deal, which is what I would have been looking for. We weren’t of a mind to build another restaurant from scratch right now,” Allen said.

He and Ashley opened Edge last fall after closing Magnolia’s on Prospect in order to open a smaller place. They opened after leasing vacant space at Junction City and building out the restaurant from scratch, from the flooring to the bar to the arena kitchen to the drapes. 

The restaurant’s menu changes daily because it is heavily dependent on the freshest foods, including meats and vegetables, that Allen can get for that day. That is one of the reasons he decided not to open for lunch any more after the first of the year. 

For Fresh Table, breakfast and lunch will be in the $10 to $12 range and all of the food will be fresh. He already has started lining up the same farmers to supply Fresh Table who now supply Edge.

The breakfast menu will feature such dishes as different eggs Benedict choices using sauce he will make from scratch, Brioche French toast and other breakfast staples such as omelets. Biscuits and gravy will be one of the choices, as well. The sausage served at Fresh Table will be made in-house, Allen said.

Lunch offerings will include pork tenderloin and other fresh meats in sandwiches, salads and wraps.

Also offered will be lunch catering for businesses who need food for meetings and such.

“Everything we offer will be scratch-made,” Allen said, noting he plans to train a chef in that style of cooking in time for the opening.

“People who know me know I am very anti-processed food and there won’t be processed foods at Fresh Table. We will be the first to say that in Peoria. When you think about it, that is an age-old idea. We’re just going to be offering a modern take on that old idea,” he said.

Allen said he likes the location in that it’s in a good neighborhood, closes to businesses and churches (for the Sunday breakfast crowd) and it is far from the people Edge relies on for dinner.

Ashley Allen said she and Dustin will market Fresh Table as “bringing quality back for breakfast. That isn’t to say Over Easy Café or other places don’t serve good food, but this will be done our way, which we think is the best way.”

The hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. While some places that serve breakfast open earlier, Ashley said they’ve never found that people in Peoria get moving that early. The short time Edge was open for breakfast on Sunday, she added, it was usually closer to 10 a.m. before it got very crowded.

Kelly Mohr, who is Dustin Allen’s mother and the former owner of Magnolia’s on Prospect, will be the general manager of Fresh Table. “She was ready to get back to the business,” Ashley said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).