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Gourmet carryout hopes to whet many appetites


The owners of Owen Gourmet To Go, a carryout restaurant scheduled to open near Sandymount next week, hope Carroll residents will become hooked on their salmon with dill sauce, crab quiche and chocolate eclairs.

That won't be hard once people get a taste, said longtime customer Estella Williams, innkeeper at the Winchester Country Inn in Westminster.

"My favorite is her chocolate-covered strawberries. Oh, they are wonderful," Mrs. Williams said.

Bob and Patty Owens of Finksburg are renovating a 2,000-square-foot former High's store on the west side of Route 140 outside Westminster. They've laid a black-and-white checkered floor and erected a blue front awning imprinted with a pineapple, a traditional welcome sign.

The couple are opening the store as an expansion of their 10-year-old part-time catering business, Owen Gourmet Caterers. With help from 15 part-time employees, they cater business lunches, weddings, afternoon teas and other events, many in Baltimore. They plan to continue the catering business.

Nancy Gregg of Westminster said the Owens will cater a tea she is throwing for 51 female friends on her 51st birthday.

Within the past four years or so, Mrs. Owens has created several beautiful cakes -- one with real pansies on top -- for special occasions in the Gregg family.

One of Mrs. Gregg's favorite desserts created by Mrs. Owen is a hardened chocolate cup filled with a cherry and Godiva liqueur.

"The food is always good, and she's very easy to work with. She's always open to new things," Mrs. Gregg said.

Desserts are a specialty for Mrs. Owens, and she will stock some in the store. Cakes start at $10. She said she also makes cheesecakes, lemon chiffon pies and "eclairs that will knock your socks off."

The Owens got started in catering because both enjoy cooking and entertaining. Mrs. Owens, 37, will work in the store full time. Mr. Owens, 39, will keep his job as a sales manager for General Elevator Co. Inc. in Linthicum and work in the store nights and weekends.

The store will open at 6 a.m. on weekdays to catch commuters on their way to Baltimore. Coffee, doughnuts, bagels and pastries will be available for breakfast, along with "white bag" lunches with sandwiches already prepared.

"There's no waiting around," Mr. Owen said. "We're trying to really capture the 'to-go' market."

Roast beef, chicken salad, turkey club and ham sandwiches will cost $3 to $3.50 each, he said. Mrs. Owens will make cream of crab, cream of broccoli and vegetable soups.

"We've cooked the things we like," she said.

For dinner, the Owenses will sell entrees packaged and ready-to-go from the refrigerated case $8 to $14. They said specialties include chicken Marsala and shrimp scampi.

They also plan to prepare children's meals, such as chicken fingers and lasagna. "We know our kids love that," Mrs. Owens said.

The couple have three children, ages 11, 8 and 4.

The store will stock staples such as bread, milk and juice, and party supplies including plates, napkins and baskets. They also will rent catering equipment.

The Owenses said they expect to hire two or three full-time and three or four part-time employees.

The store will be open from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

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