Mary Claire and Bray Britton know what it’s like to work in the best kitchens in Birmingham, Atlanta and New York City. They also know what’s it’s like to parent three kids age 5 and under in Edgewood, and that’s just where they are bringing a new fast-casual restaurant under Three15 Studio in Edgewood Station. “It’s exactly what we want in Homewood, so we hope it’s what other people want too,” Mary Claire says. We chatted with Mary Claire about what she and Bray have been dreaming up for the space when it opens in May.
Can you tell us some about your backgrounds in food?
Bray went to Auburn and started working at Bottega after graduation, and then went to Highlands Bar & Grill. He worked at Dyron’s Lowcountry for a short time, which is where he and I met, and then he helped open El Barrio and Paramount. He was the sous chef at both and was the chef at Paramount until March.
After college I moved to New York and took a job that I thought was just a barista position to help pay rent. It turned out to be a morning baker position, and I was sold. I loved it. I also worked for Danny Meyer at Union Square Café while I was in New York. After culinary school in Atlanta, I worked at Blue Ridge Grill and Bacchanalia/Star Provisions, and was the pastry chef and kitchen manager at Bake Shop. In Birmingham, I also worked at Bettola and had a stand at Pepper Place where I sold macarons. After our second baby was born, I started food styling and recipe developing for Hoffman Media and then for Southern Living/Meredith.
Where did the idea for Greenhouse come from?
Bray and I have been plotting out this concept pretty much from the day we met. We just didn’t know where the right spot was or if Birmingham was really ready for a salad-focused concept. I think Birmingham is hungry for it now. We are not a health food joint; we just have great health food options, ridiculous cookies, frosé, slushies, all kinds of fun stuff. Our tag line is “feeling good all the time,” and that means that the food we make should leave you feeling satisfied and truly good. It also tastes bananas delicious. It’s a reflection the way we feed our family. We try to get in as many colors as we can, and we drink a lot of smoothies at our house. We want to fuel people so they can be their best selves.
Can you talk some about what’s going to be on the menu?
We have several soups developed, and a couple of really good, unique sandwiches and several really good salads. We’ve developed this super cool salad with baby kale and wild greens, pea shoots, edamame, cashews, pickled carrots, tofu and a gochuchang (red chili paste) vinaigrette. We have been playing with different proteins and weird croutons—it’s not standard salad fare and will excite your palate. For breakfast we’ll have good muffins you can grab, or a smoothie or a granola bar.
For kids, we’ll have a kids grilled cheese, and lean proteins like grilled chicken tenders or fish. We make a Rainbow Salad at home with beans, peppers, tomatoes, and corn with herbs that we toss in a light vinaigrette. Our kids eat it—and our kids are picky. That will be a side and on the kids menu, along with fruit and veggies. Kids will have plenty of colorful, approachable options.
What’s this cookie you speak of?
Our Ridiculous Cookie is probably the best thing I have ever eaten in my life. I have been working in this recipe for the past three years to get it exactly right. So far we have a chocolate chip walnut and an oatmeal raisin. I think the after-school crowd will really enjoy that along with the slushies, which will be all fruit and all natural blended with ice in small batches that will be fresh week to week. It’s all about balance, right?
Can you speak more about what makes Greenhouse so green?
Right now we are painting it white and “Greenhouse” green. I am painting murals here and there. We will put shelving up packed full of plants. Basically we will be filling it with green. We are using local farms for all our produce. We will recycle and try to be as green as possible. We are doing our best to be as environmentally friendly as we can.
We also want to feed people all the green things because we have fallen in love with them and we genuinely feel so good. We have a lot of fun in general, and we hope Greenhouse embodies that light-hearted feeling.