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Mount Gretna’s Porch & Pantry now has new owners and continues the long-held tradition of serving breakfast and brunch.
Co-owners Forrest and Christina Borod and Guido Schiavoni, who’s known professionally as Chef Guido Michael, began operating the restaurant in the beginning of January, but closed mid-month for renovations. The restaurant at 106 Chautauqua Drive reopened the end of January.
Renovations included a full refresh of the 40-seat dining area and a complete kitchen renovation. Christina Borod, who serves as the restaurant’s director of décor, focused on the dining room refresh. It included new paint and colors in the dining room. The wall art was pared down.
“We still have some of the art that was familiar to guests,” she said. “We’ll also have some new pieces,” Michael added. “Every month we’ll feature a different local artist.”
During warmer weather seating will be available on the porch, and the trio hopes to have about three tables placed below the porch for people with pets. And there’s the restaurant’s unofficial greeter — Hank the cat.
“He hangs out on the front porch when we’re open,” Michael said. “His owner lives a few blocks away, and we enjoy having Hank with us.”
Michael, who serves as the restaurant’s chef and director of operations, said not only was equipment updated, but the kitchen now has a more efficient work flow. The service flow is also different. Previously drinks were self-service. Now a server greets the table with a pot of coffee.
“It speeds up service, but is also a great way for servers to welcome guests,” he explained, adding that he has a lot of experience doing breakfast/brunch in a restaurant.
He said the menu has been revamped and will change seasonally; as many ingredients as possible are locally sourced and menu items are mostly scratch-made.
“We try to have something for everyone, so there is a limited selection of vegan and gluten-free options,” Michael said.
Popular items include biscuits and gravy, and there will be a monthly “Cake for a Cause”—proceeds of this pancake will be donated to a different charity every month.
Looking ahead Michael plans to add pop-up prix-fixe dinners, sell house-made rubs and seasonings, and grab-and-go items such as granolas and subs.
“About 10-feet away from our door is the trail (the Mount Gretna spur of the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail), so people stop in either before or after walking or riding the trail,” he said. “Porch & Pantry is not just about the food; it’s about the area, the community and the trail.”
Originally from the Palmyra-Hershey area, Michael has been in the food industry since he was 14 years old. He’s been featured on Food Network and Disney+.
“I started as a server and learned by doing. I’ve moved around the country working in various restaurants. Doing the food competition shows is about the food, but it’s also about learning from the people you’re working with,” he explained, adding that he came back to the area about three years ago.
He’s known Christina and her family for a number of years and calls her his little sister. When she and Forrest married, the friendship expanded to include him.
“Forest saw the information about the restaurant being available and reached out to me,” Michael said.
Growing up in Mount Gretna, Forrest Borod worked at Porch & Pantry for a number of years, starting when he was 19.
“Mount Gretna is a tight-knit community. It’s a great place, and the restaurant has a good location,” he said. “Food is one of my favorite hobbies and pastimes. Owning a restaurant in a place that I grew up in and know so well is a fantastic opportunity for me and Christina.”
Since he is a small business relationship manager for Ephrata National Bank, Forrest’s role at Porch & Pantry is director of finance.
“Our focus is to positively impact the community and to grow the restaurant’s business. We want people to be excited about what we’re doing here. We have a great team in place,” he said.
Porch & Pantry, is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information about Porch & Pantry, visit www.porchandpantry.com or its Facebook and Instagram pages.
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