Looking over his new menu, Stephen Walker talked about his lifelong dream of running his own food stand.
"I've been cooking my whole life, and I've always wanted my own place where I could serve people freshly cooked food," he said.
The Norfolk, Va., native started to fulfill that dream this month when he moved to York County and opened Peppers Grille in Central Market.
"I'm really embracing the area. I love the history and old architecture. I wake up every morning happy to come to work," Walker said.
He said he has a background in food service and has also enjoyed cooking for family and friends.
"I take pride in serving people. I wouldn't serve anything here that I wouldn't serve my family," Walker said.
His customers become a different kind of family, he said.
"I like to get to know them a little better and get their names. I greet everyone with a smile and friendly gesture, and I think that goes a long way," Walker said.
When customers arrive at his business, they can choose among several homemade items from his southern-style menu.
Dishes include burgers, pulled pork, beef brisket, omelets and other breakfast foods, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and maple bacon-wrapped cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing.
"I have the cheesiest mac and cheese you've ever tasted, and I make a lot of southern-style sauces," he said.
Though he's a fan of spicy food and chose his business name for that reason, he also enjoys working with a lot of flavors. Reflecting that are two of his sauces: apple-rosemary dill and a beer and vinegar mix.
"I call it a beer-becue," Walker said.
Peppers Grille is a "nice addition" to Central Market, which is 85 percent full, said Casi Babinchak, the market's chief operating officer.
Sharmini's Kitchen, a Malaysian food stand, also opened recently, and Springleaf Farm will soon be offering a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
In a CSA, customers pay up front to buy shares from farmers and then receive a box or bag of fresh produce every week.
Springleaf Farm will offer the CSA year round, said farmer and general manager Sherrill Kroeck.
Because the Lancaster County farm also includes a greenhouse, it enables the organic farmers to sell fresh produce all year, she said.
"We'll have anything and everything," Kroeck said.
Starting next week, customers will be able to buy a full share, which feeds four people, or a half share, which feeds two people.
For pricing and more information, contact Kroeck at 335-0780.
"People feel good about it because it helps the farmer and it also gives them healthy, super-fresh food," she said.
Market guests have also felt good about having a new ethnic food option in Sharmini's Kitchen, Babinchak said.
The stand sells traditional Malaysian cuisine and Asian-inspired dishes, according to owner and chef Sharmini Goins.
"I'm so excited to be here. I love offering customers a cultural and educational experience," she said.
Sometimes she teaches customers how to properly shave coconut, and other times she shares her culture with them in meals such as her barbecue beef ribs with chili and lemongrass.
"Malaysia is a very multicultural place with a vast palate. I'm focused on bringing different things to the table," Goins said.
Two other stands will also be bringing something new to the table during the next two months, according to Babinchak.
Tasa, which will offer various rice bowls, will open Aug. 1, and a made-to-order salad eatery is expected to open before the end of summer, she said.
To fill the rest of the open space in the market, Babinchak hopes to attract another butcher or meat vendor because there's already plenty of produce.
"I'm back in recruiting mode," she said.
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