Like any good business, the idea was borne from what was seen as a real need in town.
We realized people have less and less time to cook,” said Melissa Nicholson, one on the founders of En-Tray, a new prepared meals business. “The concept was successful in other towns along the shoreline, but we didn’t have it here. So we decided to open.”
En-Tray, which has been open only a few weeks, is already starting to get strong word of mouth, helped by the active person-to-person marketing that partners Nicholson and Shelly Johnson have engaged in. Local businesses can attest to seeing Nicholson, samples in hand, stopping by throughout town.
The business may be new, but the friendship is not. Johnson previously owned a daycare center, one Melissa worked for. They were neighbors, living on the same Branford street. And now they are business partners.
The initial launch has been exciting, especially since the women are focused on feedback and evolving. “We know we can’t be everything to everybody,” said Nicholson. "So we are exploring a bunch of options.”
Those options already include standard meals that are priced between $8-$12, but also gluten free and vegan options, which are selling well. Offerings range from pastas to seafood to pork, with new creations out on a regular basis.
Part of the evolution of the company is about education, both their own and the customers. Some are surprised that it is not a restaurant option, one cannot come in and eat at tables; it is pick up only. But on the menu options, the feedback is crucial, and can be, at times, implemented quickly as food is prepared on a daily basis.
There are also dessert options available, and custom cakes and desserts can be ordered a week in advance. Johnson, who does much of the baking and whose goods have been seen on the shelves of Brunello’s and P&M Deli, is joined by a professional chef in the kitchen for meal preparation.
Most of all, Nicholson and Johnson are looking to be engaged with the community and are asking for feedback. What types of food are best for you and your family? Do you prefer meals family style or in single serve packages? What dietary elements would you like to see?
En-tray has set up a Facebook page where daily food offerings are posted and residents can leave comments and feedback.
“We want to be a part of the community, and help serve the residents and families in town,” said Nicholson. “Response has been great, and we look forward to hearing more from the community.”
En-Tray is located at 906 West Main Street, next to Hanami II on Branford Hill. The hours are Monday-Friday 11 – 6, and Saturday from 9 to 2.
Follow En-Tray on Facebook here.