When you walk into True Salvage Cafe, you are transported into your grandmother’s kitchen. Antique artifacts all around you, lots of light and you can smell the day’s special offerings.
“Everything we have here is either made in house or we bring in the very best we can find,” said owner David Heffernan. “The muffins, the cookies, the soups. We make them all here with the best quality ingredients.”
Heffernan soldiered through a two-year journey to get True Salvage Cafe off the ground. The space on the corner of Boyden and Elmwood avenues in Maplewood had been vacant for some time, and there were zoning issues that needed to be addressed to put a cafe in, not to mention a great deal of renovation.
But Heffernan could see the potential from the start. “There’s ample parking, great visibility, and we’re near a Jitney stop. This place was screaming for renovation, but I’m good at that,” said Heffernan. “We didn’t take any shortcuts.”
Heffernan was also the owner of Revolution Antiques, an antique shop which graced Baker Street for many years. His interest and expertise in antiques is apparent as you look around True Salvage. The shelves are packed with interesting heirlooms, including rare books and vintage vinyl, to create the perfect atmosphere for a place called True Salvage. They are good conversation pieces, and many are for sale. You can see the old Elmwood Sweet Shop sign Heffernan salvaged hanging high on the wall, with some of Heffernan’s own photography below.
Heffernan helped create the atmosphere in Gramercy Tavern in New York, a restaurant owned by his sister and brother-in-law, so he knows how to create ambiance. And he’s gathered objects from around the world with the intent to start his own cafe one day.
True Salvage Cafe had a soft opening at the beginning of January, and the menu is evolving. Right now they offer breakfast and sandwich menus. A dinner menu will be rolled out with the grand opening, date to be determined. In the summer, they will offer smoothies and outside seating.
In the meantime, this underserved neighborhood has responded well, and the cafe is trying to staff for busier times. “Parts of the day are quiet, but then we just get slammed,” said Heffernan. It looks like the Elmwood Arts District has found a place to eat and play at last.
True Salvage Cafe
292 Elmwood Ave
Truesalvagecafe.com (website in development)