From Snacks to The Factory, Square Meal Goes Full Time in Collingswood

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Dan and Jackie Walther of Haddon Township take their seasonal concept year-round in The Factory kitchen space.

By Matt Skoufalos

Square Meal logo. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Square Meal logo. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

For the past two summers, Haddon Township residents Dan and Jackie Walther turned heads at the Crystal Lake Pool with The Square Meal, their progressive take on a summer snack bar.

Now the couple is going to take that concept year-round, serving breakfast and lunch from the kitchen at The Factory in Collingswood.

“Our mission has still stayed true,” said Jackie Walther. “We want to provide responsibly sourced food. To us, that means local and minimally processed. We want to give people stuff that’s accessible to them; start from a familiar base, and give it our own touch.”

The Square Meal will play a supporting role to Revolution Coffee Roasters’ café, picking up where Constellation Collective left off after relocating to Haddon Avenue. The Walthers will serve hot food, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., six days a week.

Square Meal Sauerkraut. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Square Meal preserves. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

In addition to take-and-go breakfasts, The Square Meal will offer a few daily lunch staples, including chicken sandwiches and seasonal soups, stews, and chili.

Vegetarian options will range from fresh salads to black bean wraps and lentil patties. The couple also plans to roll out different side dishes, from house-made sauerkraut and coleslaw to Sicilian caponata.

Although the menu is eclectic, Dan Walther’s perspective on cooking is uncomplicated: simple fare with quality ingredients from local purveyors like Zone 7 of Ringoes and Philadelphia’s Le Bus bakery. His love of cooking comes from a lifetime spent learning recipes that his grandmother perfected in her tavern days, or whipping up big dinners for family parties.

“I like to innovate on what’s already out there,” Dan Walther said. “I like to take a classic thing and add a little bit of flair to it. [Something like] turkey meatloaf goes from being a leftover that you get in your lunchbox to a sandwich on ciabatta with local cheese, pesto, and arugula.”

Jackie Walther. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Jackie Walther. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The Walthers’ dynamic as a couple suits the business as well as their intimate kitchen space: Jackie loves engaging with customers at the café counter, and Dan is contented to quietly turn out orders from the kitchen.

They’ve received a warm welcome from their fellow tenants at the Collingswood incubator, and the excitement has been an inspiration to their work.

“The people here are so welcoming,” Jackie Walther said. “Everybody’s excited about what we’re going to bring, and we’re excited right back to bring it to them.”

“It’s a fun, raucous environment,” Dan Walther said. “I feel like the food we make really fits in. It’s a scrappy kind of place and it fits our style very well.”

In addition to serving food at The Factory, The Square Meal is available for offsite catering and party platters. Down the road, the Walthers want to offer mobile food vending at outdoor events, campsites, and concert venues. It’s part of a greater vision by which they hope to increase the availability of sustainably sourced food, shifting public perception as they build relationships with like-minded partners along the way, from Revolution Coffee to Walter’s Signs, which designed their branding.

“It creates this web of local small businesses that all work for and with each other, and [it]fosters community and feels nice,” Dan Walther said. “That’s what this area is all about.

“We made relationships with people that blossomed into us getting an opportunity to grow through buying cold-brewed coffee and chocolate chip cookies,” he said.

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