“Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out.” John Wooden
Imagine owning League of Chefs, a thriving catering business, when a different opportunity presents itself in the midst of your efforts. What do you do? Restaurateur Nicole Hodge chose to do both, and the result was Provisions, a delightful eatery in downtown Vallejo. Ms. Hodge opened her catering business, League of Chefs, in June 2017, near the corner of Virginia and Sacramento Streets. Once the pandemic started two years later, she had enough time between catering gigs to practice yoga and dream of exciting menus. As the pandemic progressed, it gave Nicole time to expand her space and try different strategies. At first, she offered ready-made sandwiches and soups from her door during the Saturday Farmers’ Market, and then she expanded to chicken pot pies and dinner menu items that featured locally grown produce. She offered some scarce necessities like soap, paper towels, and bathroom tissue to customers. She reimagined the corner location as a sun-filled breakfast and lunch café, filled with yummy treats on the shelves, gourmet food and specialty beverages in the refrigerated bins and coolers, a full menu for sit-down customers, and deli items and prepared foods for carryout. She also had the opportunity to set up safe al fresco dining in front of the restaurant, providing patrons and passersby with a feeling of normalcy and peace. Friendly, inviting and attractive, Nicole’s country-comfort-chic décor offers a variety of seating for different sized groups.
Provisions evolved from a modest catering business, and it is still evolving.
On a recent weekend the brunch/breakfast choices included avocado toast on Acme levain (a popular whole wheat sourdough bread that makes great toast), simply splendid fried chicken and waffles, delectable breakfast burritos, and chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast dish made with toasted corn tortilla triangles, pulled pork, crema, mole, cotija cheese, and a fried egg. Perfection on a plate!! Available bakery items consist of three different freshly made quiches containing locally grown tomatoes, herbs and vegetables, blueberry and plain scones. Desserts are basic, yet tantalizing: marzipan coconut cupcakes, fruit tarts, chocolate cheesecake, yummy cannolis, lemon bars, chocolate bars, the exotic ube panna cotta, and the decadent peanut butter bar that could not be beat. The flavorful coffee, mimosas, and other drinks round out your breakfast/brunch experience.
Nicole hails from the Berkeley area and has taught school among other things, but her love of food preparation and working with other creative and energetic “kitchen people” is what feeds her soul. Nicole’s enjoyment of work is obvious and infectious: it is great fun to eat at Provisions. Her future plans might include a second dining spot in the area, and maybe offering more prix fixe meals once she finds more staff members to join her business. In the meantime, Provisions is a cheerful place to enjoy delicious food as we make our way back to what passes for “normal life,” post-pandemic.