Scratch Kitchen owner goes through tragedy to open Olney restaurant

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For many new business owners, opening their doors can mark the start of an exciting new chapter. But for Bernie Rousseau, starting his restaurant Olney was motivated by the need to overcome a family tragedy.

The same day Rousseau got the keys to her location for Scratch Kitchen on Feb. 1, she also received a call that her daughter, Angelina, 20, who was also her business partner, had died of cardiac arrest.

According to Rousseau, Angelina was passionate about helping people and wanted to save the world. It’s these personality traits of his daughter that Rousseau wants to showcase at Scratch Kitchen, a Latin Fusion restaurant at 18062 Georgia Ave.

“She was very interested in the social service aspects and started going down that path in school and really wanted to help people who had substance abuse issues and so on,” said Rousseau, who lives in Montgomery County. . “So that was her thing, but as a mom, I was like, ‘This is not going to be good for you financially. ”

Rousseau, 40, said she sees starting a family business as a way to support her daughter’s passion for helping people while helping Angelina generate income to support herself. The venture would also benefit Rousseau’s other daughter and son, she said. Faced with his loss, Rousseau persevered to open the business to honor his daughter’s memory. She said she had to find a way through the tragedy if she really wanted to help the community.

“You really have to come out of yourself in the tragedy,” she said. “When you go through stuff, it exposes your true intent, and that’s for everyone. So was my intent really to add value to the community and create this ecosystem or is it just to me to worry about me and my family Is there a bigger mission here I honestly stuck to that – this mantra is bigger than me it can be so much – the impact that can to be done here, it was never meant to be just about my kids, it was about the community and making a change in the industry.

Baked goods at Scratch Kitchen in Olney.

Rousseau’s Italian and Puerto Rican roots influenced how she wanted to run her business and the menu offered by Scratch Kitchen. Rousseau grew up watching his Italian grandmother cook big meals not only for her family, but for all of Rousseau’s friends who were going through a tough time.

The name of the restaurant comes from the fact that most menu items, except those from local producers, are made from scratch.

The menu includes breakfast items such as buttermilk pancakes, jerk chicken, and waffles; among the lunch offerings are a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and homemade crab cake. Appetizers include empanadas and pupusas from Scratch Kitchen. The restaurant also offers a variety of baked goods ranging from Danish pastries and muffins to cakes, brownies and cinnamon rolls presented in a display case at the counter.

The restaurant has limited indoor seating and plenty of benches and tables to sit outside on the front patio; take-out meals are also available.

Terrace at Scratch Kitchen in Olney.

Scratch Kitchen also offers prepared meals through Eat Din Din, an online meal delivery service technology company, Rosseau said. Meals can be purchased on the company’s website with 48 hours notice.

It’s important for Rousseau and Scratch Kitchen to make sure they add to the community, Rousseau said.

“We will work to pay a living wage, treat people kindly, make sure they feel cared for, and add value to the community by working with black and Latino producers and people-owned businesses. women, by creating a business ecosystem to attract producers who have traditionally not been very exposed or do not know how to navigate their product. »

The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday and Sunday.

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