Fresh off a two-month hiatus, the Haddon Avenue eatery is ready to show off its new face to dine-in and catering customers.
By Matt Skoufalos
At Silver Spoon in Westmont, owners Dennis and Jill Kelley like to do things from scratch.
Renovations at their luncheonette-and-catering business, which moved from Cherry Hill to Haddon Avenue in 2013, were only supposed to last two weeks.
But when the Kelleys got into refinishing the place, two weeks quickly became two months.
“We really wanted to do it ourselves,” Dennis Kelley said. “Just like my food, I put myself into it.”
That sweat equity is apparent. From the prior, largely bare-bones space, which was dominated by a deli counter, the Kelleys have transformed their dining room into a warm den with a reclaimed-wood motif. Natural light from the front window is accented by LED track lighting along the ceiling, drawing guests along the line of service to a barn-door kitchen entryway built by local craftsman Andy McCabe.
More of the work, which will be mostly invisible to guests, was done in the back of the storefront.
The Kelleys expanded their kitchen, the better to host cooking classes, and added a dedicated wash-up room in the back to support clean-up after large catering jobs.
Temporarily shutting down the in-store business to allow for the renovations was time- and labor-intensive (Dennis Kelley created the salvaged look of his interior by hand staining the woodwork) but it was also a move to preserve the sustainability of Silver Spoon.
“Our catering was busy, and then our storefront started getting so busy I didn’t want to lose the quality,” Dennis Kelley said.
“If we had a catering job on a Friday, I would close down for Friday lunch so that everybody would get the best that we could give them. Now the front won’t affect the kitchen and the kitchen’s strictly catering.”
The storefront can host dine-in seating for about 20 to 25 guests, with from-scratch meals as well as grab-and-go soups, salads, and snacks. Jill Kelley describes its fundamental concept as “homemade, delicious meals within five to ten minutes.
“We want to make the customer happy no matter what,” she said. “I have a menu but if you have a certain theme or dietary restrictions, we’ll tailor everything to that.”
In acknowledgment of the changing needs of their clientele, and as a way to show off Dennis Kelley’s range and versatility in the kitchen, Silver Spoon has also rolled out “Dennis’ Trust Me Menu,” his weekly twist on seasonal ingredients.
“Everybody says, ‘What do you have back there; can you make something for me?” Dennis Kelley said.
“I want to be the guy where, if you like his food and like how he cooks, just go in and see,” he said. “We’re literally going to go from Creole to Italian to Asian.”
“We’re a small business at the roots, and people come in and they recognize me, and they recognize Dennis,” Jill Kelley said. The “Trust Me” menu is another step for the couple in building one-on-one relationships with their customers. Some of them will call up for catering orders, from family dinners to weddings and everything in between; some will return for their intimate, in-the-kitchen cooking classes.
Of course, the Kelleys’ own seven-year relationship directly parallels that of their seven-year business.
“This isn’t a job, this is our life,” Dennis Kelley said. “People go home and you talk to your wife and your husband, ‘This is how my day went.’ We experience life together all day. Our memories happen 24-7.
“When we first started, it was me, now it’s, ‘Where’s Jill?’” he said. “Silver Spoon falls off, and now it’s just ‘Den and Jill’.
Silver Spoon is located at 142 Haddon Ave in Haddon Township; open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.