Taylored Menus Café Opens in Pleasantville

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Taylored Menus Café in Pleasantville
Taylor Smelser, owner of Taylored Menus catering in Pleasantville, who has been able to survive the pandemic in part because of the opening of his accompanying café with meals to go.
By Lisa Mockel

Like so many others in the food service and catering industry, Taylor Smelser had to rethink the way he did business when the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and social distancing requirements brought celebratory gatherings to a screeching halt last year. 

The longtime owner of Taylored Menus, Inc. in Pleasantville, an upscale catering and event planning service, was used to catering events every weekend but needed to shift gears in order to stay afloat.

“As soon as this really took hold, my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘It’s time,’” he said. “We did a little catering last summer but not on the scale we used to.” 

During Super Bowl weekend in early February, Smelser opened a storefront at 101 Castleton St. in Pleasantville – in the same building where he’s operated a commercial kitchen since 2002.

The storefront, which features a small café with seating for five where you can grab an espresso and quick bite to eat, sells soups, sandwiches, main courses and side dishes that can be eaten on site or as part of a pre-packaged “gourmet to go” meal kit. With the arrival of spring, an outdoor dining area provides additional seating for 15 to 20 people.

The boxed meal kit, which ranges from $125 to $145, comes with everything needed to cook a gourmet dinner. Designed to feed a family of four to six people, the kits must be ordered by 9 a.m. for same-day pick up or local delivery. Pick up is Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in the Taylored Menus Café.

Smelser changes the box offerings each week to keep things interesting. The kits include easy-to-assemble appetizers, main courses and desserts.

This week’s box features a make-your-own noodle bowl, which includes chicken, mango and asparagus spring rolls with an orange ginger dipping sauce; cooked gluten-free rice noodles with a sesame sake broth; teriyaki pulled short rib of beef; Sriracha grilled chicken; various vegetables; and fresh fruit skewers with a coconut lime dipping sauce and mini coconut cupcakes.

Past boxes include the flatbread box, featuring marinara sauce, cheese, grilled chicken and other ingredients; the taco box, which has tortillas, cheese and marinated steak and chicken and the soup box complete with carrots, onions, celery, cooked pulled chicken and cooked rice.

Smelser, who launched his catering business in 1997 in White Plains, started out in the food business as an undergrad making burgers and milkshakes at St. Michael’s College café in Vermont.

“That was my first taste of the culinary world,” he said, adding that his interest in cooking spanned back to his childhood – inspired by the cooking of his grandmothers.

He then moved to Colorado where he worked as a cook at a ski resort and attended Johnson & Wales University’s satellite campus in Vail, earning a degree in culinary arts.

Smelser is excited about the new café and the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions in New York permitting larger gatherings. Easter is Sunday, Apr. 4. Check out www.tayloredmenus.com for the Easter menu.

“We can’t wait to hear from you again with all your catering needs,” he said. “With many milestone events coming up, we now have a cool storefront where you can come in, talk to an event planner, have a cappuccino and we’ll set you up for your spring and summer events.”

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