With a little help from her friends

Colin MacLean
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Borden-Carleton woman hoping crowdfunding can make her restaurant dream come true

BORDEN–CARLETON – Sarah Bennetto O’Brien has a dream.

In this dream, there are rays of sunlight bathing her cozy little kitchen in warmth.

There is laughter drifting on the salt-tinged breeze.

The smell of food on the plate in front of her draws yearnful rumblings from thestomach of the hungry visitor before her. She hands it over.

She knows the name of every farmer who produced each ingredient in the dish. She tells her guest as much, rhyming each of them off.

He smiles in appreciation.

This is what she sees when she closes her eyes.

And it’s finally, tantalizingly close to being within her reach.

But she’s not quite there yet. And she’s looking for a little help from her community to take that final step.

Bennetto O’Brien, a graduate of the Holland College culinary program, has started a campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com to help raise the last infusion of cash she needs to open her own restaurant.

She plans on calling it Scapes, after the curly stalks of a mature garlic plant.

“Every culinary student dreams of opening up their own place – but every job I’ve worked in, everything I’ve done since then has led to this point,” said Bennetto O’Brien, who is originally from Ontario but lives in Borden-Carleton with her husband and four-year-old son.

Crowdfunding is a popular new method of raising money where someone creates a proposal and offers incentives to get investors to contribute small pledges to their cause. The Kickstarter model is set up so that the project does not receive any of the promised money unless the project reach its goal.

Bennetto O’Brien’s passion is for local food and her intention is to reflect that on her menu, serving only what’s in season and available from local farmers and fishermen.

“I’ve worked in a bunch of restaurants all across Canada, and it’s always the ones that focus on local food and the connection to farmers that have been the most satisfying, that have felt the most real,” she said.

“(My menu is) all going to depend on what I can get in from my providers. I’m going to have a dozen farmers on speed dial and I’ll be getting deliveries all the time. So it’s really going to be using what’s available,” she said.

Her Kickstarter page can be viewed at this link: http://ow.ly/u6xEu.

She is trying to raise $10,000 through the campaign in the next month.

That money will be used to secure the other loans and grants she’s going to need.

For a location she has her eye on a little property in Borden-Carleton’s Gateway Village, a former dairy bar (among other things) that is currently vacant.

She’s betting that her focus on P.E.I.-only products will entice hungry tourists, searching for something uniquely local, to come through her front door.

Her ambitious goal is to be open for the long weekend in May.

She has high hopes for her campaign. It’s been getting a lot of social media play in Island foodie and locavore groups.

A lot of people know her from her work with the Crystal Green Farms veggie box program and Right off the Batt Pottery, so they’ve helped get the word out.

Since it launched on Wednesday, her campaign has already raised a little more than $3,000.

The response has been overwhelming, she said.

“I’ve cried more in the last two days than I have in years. It’s blown me away how well it’s gone so far,” she said.

And if anyone doubted how committed Bennetto O’Brien is to this project, all they have to do is pledge $1,000 to find out.

She’s promised to allow three people who fund the project by that much to pick any P.E.I. themed food item – and she’ll get an artful tattoo of it.

Her Kickstarter will be live until March 29. 




Organizations: Holland College

Geographic location: Borden-Carleton, Ontario, Canada Gateway Village Iceland

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Recent comments

  • XComa
    March 01, 2014 - 09:14

    it is going to work, it's excellent. I bet she is Awesome !!