More Than Coffee

Pastry Art Café Is Hosting Weekend Pop-Ups

Owner Jon Raynor offers a space for up-and-coming chefs to feature their food.

By Lauren Jackson November 3, 2022

Pastry Art Café is hosting weekend pop-ups.

Pastry Art Café is hosting weekend pop-ups.

Pastry Art Café in downtown Sarasota has been rolling out a series of pop-up dinners run by area up-and-coming chefs. Pastry Art co-owner Jon Raynor wants to give a platform to culinary professionals with unique food perspectives and believes the café is a great place for them to do that. He also believes other restaurants could be doing the same.

"Do you see that restaurant over there?" Raynor asks, pointing to a nearby spot on Main Street that opens later in the day. "That kitchen is just sitting there. They could be generating some income by renting it out when they aren't using it."

Raynor moved to Sarasota in 2010 and ran a successful screen printing business. He and his family traveled the U.S., attending running events where they sold T-shirts while also enjoying seeing the country. Then the pandemic hit.

In an effort to pivot, Raynor began playing with the idea of opening a taco shop. After seeing the difficulties that budding restaurateurs face, he shifted his idea to opening a small food business incubator, but was unable to get city approval for his plans. When Pastry Art came available for purchase, he and his business partner, David "PJ" Maloni, jumped at the chance. They bought it in January of this year.

Although Raynor doesn't have a lengthy culinary background or decades of hospitality experience, he understands how to operate an meaningful business within the food industry. Instead of poring over razor-thin margins and focusing on generating maximum profit, Raynor operates on a "grace over profits" philosophy.

"We realized once we got here that everyone needed a raise," he says. "You need to make people want to come to work. Then we started empowering our people, giving promotions where deserved."

As he learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business, he started to feel like there was more he could be doing in the local food scene. Enter two talented chefs: Alex Jordan and Erik Decker.

Decker owns a plant-based food business called Deck's Plate and has been working to build his presence in the Sarasota community. Raynor doesn't want chefs to work for 30 years under someone else before they have a chance to present their own culinary point of view. For the last few weeks, Decker has been showcasing a rotating menu of plant-based foods on Friday nights at the café. The most recent menus have been Mexican-inspired, with standout offerings like tempeh chorizo tamales and eggplant with salsa negra.

"Erik is a great chef and has a lot of talent," Raynor says.

Meanwhile, on Saturday nights, Jordan has been featuring her traditional Ethiopian recipes, complete with fermented injera—a sour flatbread perfect for scooping up her African stews.

"I went over to Pastry Art to ask Jon about composting, and then brought him some Ethiopian food. That's how the pop-up happened," Jordan says.

"This industry can chew you up and spit you out," Raynor says. He doesn't have specific plans to expand the pop-up schedule, but it's likely there will be new chefs rotating through the café in the evenings, offering up food in a space where they can be creative before burnout sets in.

Pastry Art Café is located at 1512 Main St., Sarasota. For more information call (941) 955-7545 or visit their website.

Filed under
Show Comments