Simple, fresh, and seasonal–to go

Business-minded home cook turned an empty nest into enterprise

Just a few years ago, Dolores Svensson was a busy stay-at-home mom. She enjoyed gardening and cooking, and especially loved the challenge of creating wholesome meals for her family, following the Italian traditions she learned from her mother.

But then her kids started graduating and leaving home. And her husband’s job took him out of town a lot. Svensson, who before motherhood had worked in the food and beverage division of Marriott Hotels, wondered what she would do in this next chapter of her life.

She started having friends over for dinner more often. One weekend she went on a girls’ getaway to Savannah and Tybee Island. In a shop, they bought quinoa salad – for $11 a pound. “Which sent me over the edge,” recalled Svennson, who served quinoa salad at home all the time. “My girlfriend, who frequented farmers markets when it was a much newer fad, said, ‘I told you! I told you you had to go into farmers markets!’”

Svensson Googled “how to get a business license,” and in 2009 she started selling her quinoa salads at farmers markets and Lucy’s Market, a shop in Buckhead. At Peachtree Road Farmers Market, manager Lauren Carey encouraged Svennson to buy her ingredients from the other market vendors. The prompting opened her eyes to local food. “The beauty of being at the farmers markets now is, that’s where I source from first. After I set up my booth I will go and visit their stands.”

In 2010, she purchased the shared commercial kitchen in Marietta where she had been preparing her foods and opened Simply Fresh Market & Carry Out Café.
Her menu includes grain salads with seasonal vegetables and fruits, chicken pot pies and lasagna, seasonal soups and sandwiches. Right now her stuffed local peppers are giving way to stuffed local winter squash, as the produce changes with the season.

Last spring she started selling fresh-pressed juices in the café. With more than 3,000 units already sold, she has made arrangements with local farmers to start buying ingredients like kale and romaine directly from them in the next growing season.

It’s funny, she says, how the 15 years she worked in the food industry, followed by her years as a home cook, were the perfect training for a new career that began on a weekend trip. “I think sometimes things just come to you, if you’re open enough to receive it,” she says. “All those jobs I did all those years ago prepared me, and it’s come full circle.”

Find SimplyFresh products at Marietta Square Farmers Market (year-round), Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Sandy Springs Farmers Market, (officially closed for the season but hosting “mini markets” – check the Facebook page for details), Lucy’s Market, and of course at Simply Fresh Market.