Elaine Bernarding simply wanted to bring the entire family back to the dinner table when she opened Entre Vous about six months ago.
Now she says her “grab-and-go” concept is becoming part of the community. Located at the Coal Mine Shopping Center at the southeast corner of West Coal Mine Avenue and South Pierce Street, Entre Vous is an iteration of the take-and-bake dinner model that has gained popularity recently in the metro area.
Bernarding offers a full menu of fresh meal options each month, and will either make entrees for pickup, or allow customers come in to prepare their own meals based on Entre Vous’ recipes. But the main reason for her business is not simply a matter of convenience, but an effort to bring back the traditional family dinner.
“It did draw me to this,” Bernarding said. “ee When I grew up, everyone sat around the table for dinner at 6 o’clock.”
The idea is that the make-and-take concept takes the stress out of preparing full meals. Not only are the ingredients and sauces ready to be measured out for a meal, but all the mess of food preparation is taken out of the consumer’s kitchen as well.
“So you just come up to the station and you follow the directions,” Bernarding said. “Easy — very, very easy.”
The February menu includes such entrees as Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts with Cream Cheese Filling, and Baked Salmon with Tomato and Herbs. Customers can see full menus at www.entreevous.com, and there are options to order online for quick in-store pickup.
Bernarding’s kitchen is clean and bright, and she welcomes those who wish to prepare their own meals individually, or as part of a party.
“Sometimes we’ll have mom’s night out here, and people can come in with a bottle of wine and make it a fun night out and go home with dinners all ready for the whole family,” Bernarding said. “This is a really great way to get the whole family around the dinner table, so a lot of people really love what we do.”
But bringing families to the dinner table is only one part of what Bernarding is doing with Entre Vous. Another aspect to her business is being a good neighbor to the community.
“She has started several teacher and staff appreciation programs,” said Heidi Werth, who helps Bernarding with marketing. “With these, her kitchen assembles and delivers to teachers and staff for free when they order dinners at her store. In addition, 10 percent of the purchases also go back to the school for whatever need they may have.”
In February, Bernarding is planning to give 10 percent back to the American Heart Association as well.
Other schools and community groups are welcome to do fund-raisers through Entre Vous.
A current project is in conjunction with the Falcon Bluffs Middle School PTA. A percentage of money made by purchasing meals at Entre Vous and using a special code will go toward the purchase of smart boards for the school.
Other schools are getting involved as well, Bernarding said.
“Convenience for the family, getting people around the dinner table with really good food, and also helping out with our education system” are cited by Bernarding as three elements in her community-conscious goals.
And, having once been a preschool teacher, Bernarding knows how teacher appreciation programs can help.
“I know the long hours they put in, and I wanted to show appreciation for what they do,” she said. “So this was a win-win situation.”
Entre Vous is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.