O’Hara women reopening vacant Powers Run market
O’Hara neighbors Cynthia Morton and Jodine Downey are taking over the vacant storefront on the hilltop along Powers Run Road, keeping the best of the longtime former market while adding their own flavor.
They’ve renamed it CJ’s Kitchen and will open the front door in September.
Many longtime residents remember “the milk store” where workers grabbed sandwiches, neighbors ran for necessities and children stopped for candy and ice cream.
“We wanted to continue that tradition for another generation,” Downey said.
The women, who both live near the neighborhood mini-market, plan to keep faith with what local grandparents remember as a community gem.
Lottery tickets, quick pick-up meals, a milk cooler, ice cream, diapers and cough syrup will be available for customers.
The women intend to add their own touches, too. The friends have arranged to sell top-flight Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and choice breads such as Mancini’s and Mediterra. Other local vendors include Glenn’s Custard and Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream. There also will be items created in-house.
“I love to cook and I’m really excited already,” Downey said. “We’ll be providing food for the community.”
Homemade soup, Reuben and Rachel sandwiches, salads and dinner entrees to-go will be available. Downey loves pasta and Italian food but the pair agree variety will be on the menu.
Morton said, “We’ll be an American deli with international influence.”
Their catering will reflect flexibility for the needs of families.
There will be quick breakfasts, school lunches, healthy dinners and even fruit and veggie trays for team snacks. Downey will whip up daily homemade soups and sauces.
For Morton, the store is her chance to use her training and love of botany. She has already planted a large selection of herbs in the flower boxes outside the renovated building.
The new planters are only part of the exterior upgrades at the market. The blue-sided farmhouse was a shell with no electricity, no water and no lighting when the women took over. The owner Steve Tobe began improvements more than a year ago and then everything came to a halt.
“We heard an outcry. People were disappointed,” Morton said. “People really want this store.”
Downey lives just around the corner and said she passed the empty building every day. The women decided to adopt the market to help neighbors while fulfilling themselves and using their talents.
Morton said, “This place has a history in the area. We will cater to the community’s needs.”
Sharon Drake is a freelance writer.