Boston’s first oatmeal cafe opens in Davis

31/01/2017 - Somerville, MA - An employee at Oat Shop prepares food for a customer. (Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily)

A new breakfast option in Davis Square is the recently-opened Oat Shop, which held its grand opening on Jan. 29. Established by Boston area native Alan Donovan, Oat Shop sells sweet and savory oatmeal bowls.

Donovan said that while working in finance in Washington, D.C. for over a year, he saw many people around him living a fast-paced lifestyle while trying to be healthy.

“People did not really have a lot of options in the market. I saw people eating granola bars every day and getting bored of it,” he said.

An oatmeal lover, Donovan said that he had always enjoyed playing around with different recipes for his friends and family. He added that setting up a pop-up restaurant in Brookline this summer gave him the opportunity to test out which flavors and recipes really worked with people’s tastebuds.

Donovan explained that he chose Davis Square as the location for Oat Shop because of the interesting combination of traffic from residents, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuters and the Tufts community, all of which lead to a very interesting culture that drew him to Somerville.

Given its proximity to Tufts, Oat Shop has become a location that Tufts students not only visit as customers but at which they are also employed. Two Tufts students, including senior Susan Kaufman, currently work at Oat Shop.

Kaufman started working at Oat Shop after she saw a job listing in December. She said that she is interested in food journalism, and Oat Shop provides an outlet for her to understand more of the inner workings behind the restaurant and food industry.

“I knew [Oat Shop] would thrive in Davis,” she said. “It’s so hip.”

She also said that she admired Oat Shop because of its inviting staff and warm atmosphere.

“The staff is so nice and Alan [Donovan] is so laid back,” she said. “He really knows how to run a business.”

Donovan prides himself on offering endless possibilities of oatmeal options for patrons of the Oat Shop.

“We have customizability, and you could really build something new every day,” Donovan said.

In addition to the customize-a-bowl option, Oat Shop‘s menu includes flavors ranging from a familiar banana and peanut butter bowl to a less traditional egg and sriracha bowl.

Donovan said that while some options may seem unconventional, patrons will understand why they are on the menu if they give them a chance.

“I was so freaked out by the savory [options], but it is really interesting because the savory oats are made in vegetable broth and not coconut milk like the sweet bowls,” Kaufman said. “The savory bowls taste like rice bowls that are really hearty and warm.”

Maddie Oliff, a first-year who visited Oat Shop on Jan. 27, was intrigued by the many combinations offered.

“I wouldn’t be thinking of making some of the combinations that they had,” Oliff said. “I chose what was in my comfort zone, the nuts over berries, but I definitely foresee myself going back there again and trying something outside of my comfort zone.”

Sophomore Amanda Freedman, who visited Oat Shop with Oliff, shared Oliff’s desire to return in the near future.

“The oatmeal was delicious and the toppings were fresh,” she said. “It’s a great concept, and I’m definitely going to go back to try other flavors.”

Kaufman, who said she recommends the bacon and eggs bowl, explained that Oat Shop has a barista who is in charge of coming up with more recipes as well as creating sauces, such as coconut curry and cheddar, for the bowls.

Kaufman said that the Oat Shop is very accessible to people with allergies: Gluten-free oats are offered if you ask, and most of the toppings are dairy-free and vegan friendly.

“Everyone can come and find something,” Kaufman said.

As a new business owner, Donovan expressed his gratitude to other community partners who contributed to Oat Shop‘s success, including Somerville Local First, a community organization that supports local businesses and nonprofits.

“They were very supportive, and especially not having any restaurant background [myself], getting some other people’s expertise and guidance has been great,” he said.

Moving forward, Donovan envisions Oat Shop building a deeper connection with local farms and purchasing seasonal products from local markets as well.

Although the store has only been open for about two weeks, Oat Shop has already garnered a regular following.

“A lot of people who work stop at Oat Shop in the morning before getting on the T,” Kaufman said. “The location is great, and we already have plenty of regulars.”

Donovan has also noticed that customers have begun to return on a regular basis, which he appreciates and hopes will continue to occur.

“I’m getting to know [the customers’] bowls, and they have accepted us and put us into their daily routine, which has been amazing,” Donovan said.


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