PITTSBORO — Pittsboro’s Small Cafe B and B (formally The Small B&B Cafe) has new owners with ambitious plans to infuse the quaint, downtown eatery with flavors from around the world.
“We want to preserve the essence of the place,” Christoffel Verwoerdt, the restaurant’s one-third owner, told the News + Record. “But we’re definitely going to put our mark on it.”
Verwoerdt bought the property earlier this summer with his wife, Lisa, and her nephew, Chef R.L. Boyd. The restaurant — at 219 East Street, immediately east of the downtown traffic circle — was previously owned by Lisa Piper and Dave Clark, who started looking for buyers earlier in the pandemic. The site features Small Cafe and three standalone cottages available for rent on Airbnb.
“We’re just ready to move on to new things,” Clark told the News + Record last year.
The new owners took over July 1, and have since maintained the menu and ambiance that endeared customers to the eclectic cafe.
“The previous owners really created a cute little niche here with a little cult following,” Lisa Verwoerdt said, “just loyal, wonderful customers and community. One guy came in and he got up and came to the kitchen and goes, ‘I’m glad to say that this has been my favorite breakfast place and now it’s changed management and it’s still my favorite breakfast place.’ That kind of feedback means a lot to us.”
Most of the restaurant’s ingredients come from local suppliers: eggs from Massey Creek in Madison, pork from Durham’s Firsthand Foods and coffee from Pittsboro’s Aromatic Roasters. Boyd also frequents farmers’ markets for seasonal items.
Small Cafe’s farm-to-table commitment and staple menu — including eggs and smashed potatoes, French toast, seasonal quiches and a chicken breast sandwich — won’t be going away. For more adventurous customers, however, the Verwoerdts and Boyd are planning something big: “Brunch Around the World in 80 Ways,” a year-and-a-half-long campaign to feature flavors from every corner of the globe.
“We were throwing around ideas for what new stuff we might do,” Lisa said, “and we thought about Jules Vernes’ ‘Around the World in Eighty Days.’ We thought, ‘Why not sort of make it around the world in 80 ways?’”
And so the series was born. Boyd — who’s worked in kitchens from Dallas to Manhattan, including Pittsboro’s nationally acclaimed Fearrington House — quickly generated a list of ideas.
“I’ve cooked in a lot of different styles at different restaurants,” he said. “And so I started thinking, ‘Yeah, I can make something from this country, and something from that country,’ and it just came together.”
The promotion begins Sept. 15 with a Jamaican jerk chicken special followed by culinary tours of Turkey and Colombia. Boyd plans to offer each dish for one week. The cafe’s website (www.smallcafebandb.com) will promote five weeks’ worth of specials at a time. “We have a little gem here that works,” Christoffel said. “And now with (Boyd’s) help we’re going to expand on that and just do some wonderful, creative new things to attract new customers.”
The diverse offerings will hopefully establish a reputation that captures an untapped customer base, Lisa added, between thousands of new residents moving into Chatham Park and the longtime residents who never discovered Small Cafe.
“We have gotten so many people in here that said, ‘I’ve lived in Pittsboro and I didn’t even know you existed,’” she said. “And they’re like, ‘I found you now, and I’ll definitely be coming back,’ but I was really surprised at the number of times that I’ve had people say that to me since we’ve been here.”
Pandemic volatility poses an ongoing threat to restaurants’ financial security, but Small Cafe’s owners hope a fresh take on international cuisine will encourage diners to maintain their support.
“The pandemic is scaring people again,” Boyd said. “Everybody’s down a little bit, especially in the last couple of weeks.”
But his kitchen is still running and customers are grateful.
“We’ve had a lot of people be very kind and wish us a lot of luck and say how excited they are that we that we’re keeping the place open,” Lisa said. “They were so worried that they were going to lose it. So we’re just happy to be able to say we’re here and we’re open.”
For Small Cafe B and B’s full breakfast and lunch menus, and to explore the property’s lodging options, visit www.smallcafebandb.com. The restaurant is open for diners from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @dldolder.