Visitors to the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven (JCC) in Woodbridge will notice a familiar local eatery in the lobby. This month, Edge of the Woods opened a satellite, the first expansion for the popular vegetarian and vegan food outlet in downtown New Haven.
The shidduch is the culmination of a long courting process, says Shelley Gans, director of the JCC.
Since the JCC relocated to Woodbridge in 1993, the facility has offered an eatery, with interludes as one vendor made way for the next.
“During those interruptions, we reached out to Edge of the Woods because we truly believed it represented the best fit for our population and our mission,” says Gans, but the timing was never right for owner Peter Dodge. Last year, when Mike’s Center Café and Bakery relocated to the Stamford JCC, Gans got a different response from Dodge. In mid-August, six months after discussions began, Edge of the Woods had a “soft” opening of its JCC satellite. The official, hoopla-laden ribbon-cutting will be part of the JCC’s open house festivities on Sept. 7.
Since its opening 20 years ago, Edge of the Woods has always maintained a kosher kitchen and bakery, Dodge says. In response to customer requests, the food-preparation facilities were converted to chalav Yisrael (kosher dairy) in time for Shavuot this year.
Supervised by Rabbi Yaakov Mendelson of the Vaad HaKashrus of Fairfield County, the JCC outlet offers a range of vegan, vegetarian, dairy, and gluten-free dishes – a perfect menu for a diverse Jewish community. “We wanted to make sure that the JCC was a place where all members of the community could eat, because that’s what makes community,” says Gans.
In addition to serving as an eatery, kosher caterer, and outlet for fresh-baked challah (on Fridays), Edge of the Woods provides expertise to the JCC nutritionist and fitness staff to promote healthy eating among JCC members.
“We have always believed that food service was necessary to make our JCC house feel like a ‘home,’” says Gans. “Now people have a place where they can come to eat with family members or fellow business-people. There’s great synergy between Edge of the Woods and us.”
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