Fresh energy is everywhere you look at Pumpernickel + Rye, the creation of sister-owners Amy Nesbit, executive chef, and Megan Hook, general manager.
Urbana is in for a real treat with this first-of-its-kind scratch kitchen, new school deli and neighborhood market. A nearly 100-year-old farmhouse was renovated with a modern state-of the-art kitchen that uses only local ingredients and responsibly sourced meat and seafood. The mostly carry-out and catering deli will serve breakfast and lunch to include coffees, teas, toasts, sandwiches (classic and new school), soups, salads, bowls, house-made meats and lots of grab-and-go items revolving around seasonality and local availability.
“Our biggest concern is quality,” Chef Amy said. “We want to know where the food is coming from and when it was made to be able to articulate this to our customers. We do not use preservatives and source organic wherever possible.”
The sisters grew up in Ellicott City. They knew Urbana from the Cracked Claw and nearby New Market from family gatherings at Mealey’s. New Market was a central point for their family, which had spread throughout Maryland. They recalled vivid childhood experiences in the area and with food. “We grew up on deli—it’s a symbol of family get-togethers. There always was the deli spread at Sunday breakfasts at our MomMom’s … the lox, sable—brought everyone together!”
Pumpernickel + Rye has been in the making for the past two years as the sisters scouted areas, finally selecting Urbana because it was supportive, had a captive audience and was family oriented. They networked with the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Women in Business group and collaborated with Octavo Designs on their concept. “Sue Hough at Octavo Designs brought our vision to life, and we are really grateful to her for bringing about our brand,” Nesbit said. “She is incredibly supportive.”
The sisters have been in the food and hospitality industries for a number of years and have consulted and operated restaurants for other investors. Starting out, they both went to live in Los Angeles—Hook as a corporate flight attendant on private jets and Nesbit as an executive chef and restaurant consultant in LA and several international locations and as personal chef to celebrities. Hook said that these diverse experiences taught them to work with customers’ preferences, “to accommodate to the experience and not just eating.” Serving special foods and adapting menus for various dietary restrictions are all part of the equation, as well as realizing that all cultures have comfort food, and this provides community and togetherness. “We will always have something on our menu to accommodate all,” Nesbit said.
Hook resides in Urbana and her son attends Sugarloaf Elementary. Nesbit is currently going back and forth from Downtown Frederick to LA.
The sisters are committed to local involvement and no waste. Pumpernickel + Rye is about “local and seasonal offerings highlighting Maryland’s bounty—the farmland, agriculture and nature,” Nesbit said. “One-third of Maryland is designated for agriculture. We are passionate about good food and the opportunity to create seasonal menus to utilize and showcase it.”
At their new deli, all food scraps and kitchen waste have a second life as compost with the help of Key City Compost in Frederick. Their fryer oil gets repurposed by ReSource Oil of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, into bio-diesel fuel. Leftovers are recycled into soil and sold to local landscapers. Nesbit said she hopes to eventually maintain a hydroponic garden to grow lettuces and herbs.
Their meats are sourced from no more than 150 miles away and prepared in-house. From a deboned piece of meat, Nesbit rolls, rubs, brines and cooks it, then chills and slices it. The pastrami is in a seven-day brine in the smoker, and the lox is in a beet cure that turns it a pinkish color. The sauerkraut and pickles come from Sweet Farm in Woodsboro. Nesbit can tell you exactly where all her ingredients originated. “If not from my hands, it was locally sourced by a Frederick artisan,” she said.
The exception to their local rule is the Kosher water bagels delivered par-baked from Noshman’s in Brooklyn and finished at the deli. Coffee is from organic Rise Up in Easton, Maryland, who grow and harvest their own. Pumpernickel + Rye serves drip, espresso drinks, latte, cappuccino and different teas from Wight Tea Company in Baltimore. Nesbit will be making her own lavender and other syrups for the drinks. Pastries are delivered from Fresh Baguette in Rockville and bread from The Breadery in Catonsville.
Plans are evolving to host special nights at the market and sell tickets to various events after the holidays with the hope of adding evening hours. For now, the hours are weekdays 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays) and weekends 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no table service, but there are two seating nooks where one can enjoy a snack and free wi-fi.
Deli means family to the sisters and they invite you to their table for a nosh!