Comfort Food to Go from Gather

MP doesn’t know about you, but today, she could use a little extra TLC. When she feels this way, she doesn’t feel much like doing anything, especially cooking. Thanks to our newest sponsor, Gather in Yarmouth, bringing home a wholesome, family meal is easy. The restaurant recently introduced Gather at Home—freshly prepared meals, sides, and desserts to go. Our family of four tried the hearty chorizo meatloaf, homemade biscuits, and roasted Brussels sprouts. The experience felt just like enjoying a home-cooked meal, but without all the work.

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Restaurant owner Matt Chappell chatted with MP recently about this exciting, new takeout option and what families can expect when they visit.

MP: What prompted you to start Gather at Home?

Matt: I was looking for ways to expand our offering, and genuinely thought there must be more families like mine; busy, on the go, not always time to cook dinner (and tired of pizza).

MP: Are the meals you provide also available on the menu at Gather?

Matt: Most of the meals, pastries, and desserts we offer in the case are different from the restaurant meals. Restaurant meals get assembled at the last minute when you place your order. Prepared meals are assembled complete and must hold up in a refrigerated environment. We do, however, utilize many of the same Maine ingredients.

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MP: Where can people find what will be offered each week? How often will these offerings change?

Matt: The website (gathermaine.com) is a good source for the menu, and we anticipate adding new dishes and sides regularly. Much like the restaurant menu, we are guided by the seasons and what is available from local farms.

MP: How many people does a typical entrée feed?

Matt: Each meal feeds 2 hungry adults, or an adult and two kids. The sides, desserts, and pastries are packaged to feed a similar number of people.

MP: The cost of takeout varies greatly. Was it difficult to decide on pricing?

Matt: I looked carefully at what people might spend on a supermarket dinner, and what they might spend at a restaurant. We fall in between at $6 or $7 per person. You’re not cooking, but you still have to do the dishes.

MP: There are so many delicious options for takeout—from pork enchiladas to veggie pot pies. Which entrée has been the most popular to date?

Matt: The pork enchiladas are a close second to the most popular dish—Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie.

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MP: I noticed you’ve made a great effort to offer several gluten-free and vegetarian options. If someone wanted GF crust for a pot pie, would you be able to accommodate that request?

Matt: I don’t have current plans for a GF pot pie, but the other dishes are all GF.

MP: Kids are notoriously picky eaters. When you developed the menu with your chef, what ideas did you kick around? Have you received any feedback from parents on what they would like to see more (or less of) on the menu?

Matt: This whole project has been somewhat of a pilot program. Testing what works, what doesn’t, learning, etc. I ask for and receive feedback on a continual basis. For example, we heard that the pot pie crust was a bit too sweet, and maybe a bit peppery for the young palate. We’ve adjusted accordingly. We’ve been getting regular requests for Mac ‘n Cheese and Shepherd’s Pie. Both are in the works –along with other new dishes and sides.

MP: There are several good, local takeout options. What makes Gather at Home different than others?

Matt: I agree. There are many good choices out there, and I’ve learned that people like options and variety. Our meals are freshly made and feature food from the area, such as carrots from Bowdoinham, beets from Yarmouth, chicken from Topsham, pork from Wales.

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MP: In addition to entrees and sides, you also offer desserts and pastries. Who makes them for you?

Matt: I have an in-house pastry and dessert chef who is constantly coming up with new ideas for the case. Just yesterday, we added Apple-Rose Jam Bars. A tasty shortbread bar made with PieTree Farm apples.

MP: What kind of feedback have you received from the community so far?

Matt: It’s been very well received. I knew young families would be interested, but we are also seeing strong traffic from older couples, many of whom are new to Gather. The goal was to meet people where they are in their day or week. Maybe you didn’t have time to shop? Maybe you and your spouse are heading out for the night and you need a meal to feed the kids and babysitter? Maybe the kids are at sports and you want a hot meal when they get home. I hear these stories and more. Luckily, Gather at Home is filling some of that need.

MP:  I have to ask. What’s your go-to for takeout?

Matt: I like the sushi at Hannaford these days.

Many thanks to sponsor Matt Chappell for telling us all about Gather at Home! To learn more, visit here. And if you’re curious about the restaurant, read all about our first visit.

Photography courtesy David Dostie.

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