By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
CAREY — One of the newest eateries in Carey is gaining a faithful following.
The Mustard Seed Cafe & Treats is part of Our Lady of Consolation Shrine Cafeteria. Menu selections include sandwiches and wraps, soups, salads and bakery items along with ice cream and coffee.
“Ice cream is very popular,” said Sandy Insley, food services manager at the Shrine Cafeteria and the new cafe. “Coffee is huge. And the smoothies are humongous. We had a line out the door this afternoon. The kids love them.”
The new shop, located on the far east end of the cafeteria building at 315 Clay St., came about when the Rev. Thomas Merrill, rector/pastor of the Basilica and Shrine, and Insley started talking about the need for something different than the traditional cafeteria menu for visitors.
“We wanted to continue to offer the hospitality of the church,” he said.
But times have changed since the days when large bus groups were the norm, he explained.
“We’ve had a cafeteria for years. Right around the late 1960s the building was built. And of course, it served the need of so many pilgrims so that they had a place to eat,” said Merrill.
These days, individual families and smaller groups make up the majority of the shrine’s visitors.
“The reason that we started all this doesn’t exist as much any more,” he said. “So we felt that we needed to do something that would, I think, continue our tradition of hospitality, but at the same time tailor it to the needs that we have today.”
The new cafe is also benefiting the shrine economically, he said.
“We don’t have as many pilgrims as we used to and the parish is little bit under economic hard times right now,” Merrill said. “So this is also helping us financially.”
And with more of a coffeehouse atmosphere, the cafe isn’t competing with other eateries in town, he noted.
“There are some eating establishments in Carey, but nothing quite like this,” he said. “I don’t believe this is competing with anybody. It’s just meeting a different need.”
Creating the cafe took some planning. The area where it is now located had been used by Father Paul’s Volunteer Bakery. Merrill said the bakery was started by the late Father Paul Faroh who, along with his volunteers, made pies, cookies, coffee cakes, pizzas, bread, pasta and potato chips and sold them to benefit shrine and parish projects.
When Faroh died in 2017, the team of volunteers agreed to continue with the baking and sales.
“So we asked that group to make sure it was OK (to use the space for the cafe), and they were fine with it,” said Merrill.
Insley, who has been in charge of the cafeteria for four years, said there was a definite need for something smaller for lunch.
“Our cafeteria gets used for wonderful things. We have many buses that come, but also funeral dinners so it’s a little difficult. You feel awkward coming in. It’s 6,000 square feet. Whether you’re coming in for the funeral or to get lunch, it’s just awkward,” she said. “We needed a facility that was smaller.”
As they began to plan, the cafe took on a “life of its own,” she said. “It just evolved.”
Insley came up with the menu offerings by first studying the coffee menu at the Becca House in Upper Sandusky. Becca House coffee is now sold at the cafe.
“They’re very successful and locally known in Wyandot County,” said Insley. “So that was the basis. That was where I started.”
She also thought about different types of quick sandwiches that could be served.
“I wanted it to be something that is not fast food, but yet it’s fast, like something you would eat at home for your lunch,” she said. “You’d make an egg salad sandwich. You would make a turkey or ham club sandwich. These are the things that you would make at home.”
And she wanted it to have a homey atmosphere.
“The premise and the goal is that it’s a comfortable place to come,” she said.
Cookies and muffins are available along with slices of Father Paul’s pies.
The food is delicious and nutritious, added Merrill.
“It tastes like food you would prepare at home. It doesn’t taste like fast food at all,” he said.
The name, Mustard Seed, was picked, in part, for its Biblical reference, said Merrill.
“Of course the mustard seed, which is the smallest of seeds becomes the largest of shrubs. So I believe that even though this started out small, it’s going really become something very large,” he said. “We also hope that they’re planting seeds of hospitality with pilgrims and the community.”
A grand opening was held May 28. So far, Merrill has been pleased with the response from pilgrims and community members who also stop by for food and snacks.
“I don’t think it will be like a flash in the pan like a novelty. I think because of the variety things, it’s going to be perfect,” he said.
Although the cafe has six tables inside and several large picnic tables outside, there’s already been talk of expanding, Merrill said.
“Above all, we want people to come in and feel welcome,” said Insley.
Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Sunday hours are 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a limited menu of salads, cold sandwiches, bakery items and coffee.
Orders can be phoned in ahead of time at 419-396-3007. The menu is available on the Mustard Seed Cafe & Treats Facebook page.