Hallowed Grounds Coffee Co., Thyme Kitchen & Catering to Open in Merchantville


The combination sandwich shop and coffee bar offers scratch cooking from home-grown produce and locally roasted coffee in the former Charlie’s Crepes storefront on South Centre Street.

By Matt Skoufalos | April 23, 2024

Ryan Budd (left) of Thyme Kitchen and Hallowed Grounds Coffee Co. owner Matt Gargano. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

It started with a chat at Laurel Market in Pitman, with chef Ryan Budd trading his homemade mozzarella for some of Matt Gargano’s fresh-roasted coffee.

The two were among the busiest vendors at the market, with Budd, a self-described coffee addict, slinging fresh salad dressings, preserves, and baked goods.

Gargano, a novice barista, was pouring fresh drinks from a mobile cart he’d just launched.

“We kept in contact long enough to tell each other we would open something together one day, probably not thinking it would happen,” Budd said.

“Three years later, I stumbled upon this listing, knew that Matt would be interested, and it all happened very fast.”

Gargano had entered Laurel Market to vend the organic heirloom produce he grows at Evergreen Valley Acres, his half-acre organic farm in Sewell.

“I love growing; I hate corporate agriculture,” he said. “I’m very much for small ag, and that’s just what I wanted to do.”

But when Laurel Market needed a coffee vendor, Gargano and his fiancée, Christine Caltabiano, decided to take up the challenge. In that moment, Hallowed Grounds Coffee Company was born. Its name comes from their interest in veterans charities and land conservation; Gargano’s own Hands to Heroes Foundation raises funds to help train veterans in small-scale organic farming.

Hallowed Grounds quickly grew into a mobile fair-trade and organic coffee business ranging from Delaware to New York, popping up at businesses and special events. It is supported by products from White Horse Coffee Roasters of Jenkintown, and Chara Tea, with which Gargano partnered to open Outpost Café at Westville Brewing Company.

In Merchantville, Hallowed Grounds will offer a full espresso menu, cold brew and nitro cold brew and tea; seltzers, non-alcoholic cocktails, and specialty drinks. Gargano said he’ll use house-made fruit purees and local fresh ingredients wherever possible. He also plans to provide fresh produce for use in Thyme Kitchen & Catering, the Budds’ food component of the business.

Breakfast sandwich with potatoes. Credit: Thyme Kitchen & Catering.

Fresh off two Best of Gloucester County awards, Ryan and Amanda Budd of Pitman have built a reputation for quick-serve comfort food at Thyme Kitchen & Catering.

Their business, like Hallowed Grounds, found its footing at Laurel Market, evolving from a commissary operating out of a pizzeria into a concept that the Budds feel is ready for its own enterprise.

With a focus on home-cultivated ingredients and house-made dishes, Thyme Kitchen will retail breakfast, lunch, and take-home meals from the Merchantville storefront.

From soups and specialty salads to sandwiches and heat-and-eat meals, chef Ryan Budd believes the audience that embraced their cooking in Pitman will emerge in Camden County as well.

“Anybody I’ve talked to is super-excited, and they don’t even know the scope of what we want to do,” he said. “They’re excited for something new, and I have high hopes for the area.”

The Budds will be baking their own sandwich breads in-house, making their own cheeses, and sourcing other ingredients from local growers and purveyors. Breakfast sandwiches will be built around things like house-special eggs, fresh-ground sausage smash patties, and braised black-pepper candied pork belly bacon.

Other specialties turn on preparations Ryan Budd honed throughout the years. His fresh avocado toast is whipped with goat cheese, and topped with lump crabmeat and citrus frisee. Homegrown tomato chutney perks up a fresh mozzarella sandwich. Flights of browned-butter drop biscuits are topped with a rotating selection of dips.

“It sounds cliché, but I’m cooking the food that I would want to eat,” he said. “We’re very reasonable and you get a lot for the price point. That’s been our business model for a while.”

The business is aiming to open its doors by late April or early May, with a focus on early morning to midday hours; likely 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.. Both couples believe in the immense potential of the location at the Trellis Plaza, and hope to find their niche serving breakfast, lunch, and beverages in the space there.

Hallowed Grounds Coffee Company and Thyme Kitchen and Catering are located at 177 South Centre Street in Merchantville. For more information, visit Hallowed Grounds and Thyme Kitchen online.

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