Talking Paninos and Vintage Eateries with Sara Trembath
1. Tell us about Trasca & Co Eatery?
Trasca & Co Eatery is a one-of-a-kind vintage neighborhood eatery, specializing in hand-crafted Italian-inspired sandwiches, craft beer and craft coffee. We’re all about amazing food and service – and we won’t stop until it’s perfect! We are located in the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center in Ponte Vedra Beach, just behind Publix.
2. What do you mean by a "vintage neighborhood eatery?"
The term vintage to us harkens back to the days of old. Our space uses reclaimed materials that have withstood the test of time – like the 3 inch heart pine wood bar that came from the Dyal Upchurch Building in downtown Jax (the wood used to be the floor joists), or the vintage windows hanging in front, or the reclaimed booths that were once church pews.
Vintage to us is also emblematic of the fact that the quality and preparation of food was simply better in past times. Rather than mass-produced, processed foods that proliferate our world today, food was once hand-crafted by artisan makers. That's why we use artisan products and ingredients like Zingerman’s Coffee, Puck’s Soda, and deli meats from Sy Ginsberg.
Finally, when we talk about being a neighborhood eatery - we want to be a place that the community really embraces and is proud of - a local hang-out, if you will.
3. What was your inspiration for The Eatery?
Our biggest source of inspiration is Zingerman’s from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They are known for having the very best of everything – especially ingredients and service. They’ve been a terrific partner for us with our coffee business - but even more importantly, they’ve taught us lessons about how to select our ingredients, how to make sure we’re giving the best service, and how to build a great business.
We’ve also gathered oodles of inspiration from my family – the Frascas. They’ve been slinging melted, golden-brown deliciousness - in the form of a Panino - since 1974!
4. What's the ambiance at The Eatery?
Our service is a fast-casual model. You order from our super-friendly greeters at the front counter, grab a seat anywhere you like - inside or on the patio - and we’ll bring your hand-crafted meal to you in 15-20 minutes!
The feel of The Eatery is that of a vintage East Coast eatery - something that's different from anything else at the Beach. We wanted a rustic, hand-crafted space – and one that will be comfortable for everyone – folks in suits having a business meeting, folks coming from the beach in their flip-flops, and parents with toddlers.
5. Where does the name of your restaurant come from?
The Trasca part comes from a combination of Trembath and Frasca. The owners are Trembaths and Frasca is the name of my grandma, Grandma Evey – who invented the Panino as we know it. The name is reflective of The Eatery itself, a unique combination of my family and our own unique vision.
The “Co" doesn’t refer to anyone in particular - yet anyway! Our longer term vision is to have a community of businesses here in the Beaches, with each being one of a kind. More to come on that down the road!
6. Can you introduce us to your signature creation - the Panino?
A Panino starts with a really thin sheet of dough that we top with the best quality meats and cheeses and bake at 495 degrees for 5 minutes. After baking, we add delicious sauces and vegetables, roll it up, cut it in half - and savor! My grandma Evey created the original secret family dough recipe in 1974 in a small kitchen in Colorado Springs. We've tweaked it a bit over the years, but the original recipe has stood the test of time - our homemade dough recipe has been used by my family for over 40 years!
7. How does Panino dough compare to pizza dough?
They share a few similarities although the ingredient ratios are a little different and the Panino is prepared by rolling the dough quite a bit thinner than a traditional pizza would be.
8. Is it true that you make your dough fresh every morning?
Absolutely! Sometimes twice daily if the lunch rush is really strong! The dough is the key to everything we do. It's what keeps people coming back. Any dough only has a handful of ingredients, so the quality of the dough is all about the quality of those ingredients, the ratios, and the way it is prepared. Fortunately, my family perfected all three inputs, so we were set up for success!
9. Can you describe a few Panino options?
Some of the best sellers are the Buffalo Bleu, the Bacon Crisp Spinach, the Cajun Ranchero, and the Spaghetti Pie (the only Panino smothered with our homemade marinara). The beauty of the Panino is that it is so versatile. We’ve had a lot of fun playing with different ingredient combinations, and many of our customers have enjoyed working their way through the variety of Paninos on the menu!
10. What are some of the other highlights from your menu?
We have some really delicious salads that have been a hit – highlighted by our Trasca salad. Our Panino Sticks are served with our housemade Ranch and Marinara for dipping and they're to die for! Our pizzas have also been extremely well received, both our Traditional crust and our individual-sized Cracker Pizzas.
For Sunday Brunch we serve breakfast Paninos, craft frittatas with potato roasties, eggs and bacon with French Pantry toast, Belgian waffles, mimosas and other wonderful breakfast fare!
11. We've heard a lot about your Famous Mud Pie. Why is it famous?
The Mud Pie starts with crumbled Oreo crust, a layer of Dulce de Leche, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Grandma T's Homemade Hot Fudge, which is made in-house and topped with housemade espresso whip cream. It has become famous locally because it is so darn good!
12. Do you have other desserts too?
Yes, we recently added a Root Beer Float and some delicious cookies from our awesome baker, Rona. We have also run some of Rona's cheesecakes as specials. Basically, everything Rona makes is delicious and divine - we are very lucky to have her on the Trasca Team.
13. You've put a lot of effort into sourcing your ingredients. Can you tell us more about that?
To us, ingredients are king – Nueske’s Applewood Bacon from Wittenberg, Wisconsin, Cabot Sharp Cheddar Cheese from Montpelier, Vermont, and Farmer Sy's Free Range Turkey from Detroit, just to name a few.
There cannot be great food without great ingredients – and we are committed to always sourcing the best. We really believe that you can taste the difference with amazing ingredients.
14. How did you select your key ingredients?
We tested every single ingredient on the menu. That’s the best part of opening a restaurant! But, in all seriousness, it’s not that hard to know when you’ve found a great ingredient – for us, it’s got be crafted, raised, or prepared with care and love - the producers need to have pride in their product, and it needs to taste really, really good - this last part being the real ticket. Travis and I come from packaged goods background, so food has been a part of our corporate careers – we know and LOVE great food!
15. Can you tell us about one or two ingredients and how the choice you made is reflected in the finished product?
Hmm…limiting to one or two is so tricky, but I’ll try! Our meats come from the supplier to the top Jewish delis in the country. Sy Ginsberg is the man, and United Meat & Deli is the company. Sy's meats are simply the best – they use the very best farms and suppliers, the most humane animal treatment, and the utmost care in processing. They also don't use crazy preservatives, or any of the bad stuff that people don't like in their food.
Our sodas are unique – they come from Puck’s, an all-natural craft soda company out of New Jersey. The family behind Puck’s has been making craft soda since 1882. They make their soda in small batches, using very few ingredients and all natural sugar cane. As with everything, we chose Puck's primarily because they were the best we could find. They also have a really cool back story and is unique to the area.
Our coffee comes from a craft roaster called Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, MI. Steve and the crew at Zingerman's source their beans from all over the world, but the key is they only source from the top 3% of growers. Great coffee starts with great beans. Then they roast it with care in small batches. It is a coffee drinkers coffee. We serve it using the best equipment in the world, and our baristas have been through a rigorous training program with the owner and founder of Zingerman's Coffee. If you like great coffee, you will like Zingerman's - that's a guarantee, or your money back! (wink!)
16. You also sell wine and beer...
Travis is a big craft beer fan. So, honestly, he just puts the beers that he likes on tap! We have a nice combination of local beers from terrific brewers like Intuition and Engine 15, as well as some great beers from other areas of the country - Founders and Bell's from Michigan, Leinenkugel’s from Wisconsin, and Rogue from Oregon.
17. Do you offer take out service and catering as well?
We were shocked by the number of businesses in the area that were eager for another lunch option! We have been fortunate to receive large to-go orders almost every day. We also see a great number of hotel guests from the area - and local families that pick up Paninos for dinner. It's become a very convenient option for those coming home down the A1A corridor – they call in their order from work and pick it up on their way home.
We will look to add catering in the not-so-distant future. We need to add some kitchen capacity before we can effectively support catering but it is on the horizon!
18. Can you tell us about your background?
I literally grew up in the restaurant business, with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles! Both Travis and I have a great deal of corporate experience - in marketing, strategy, managing people, and the like. This has really helped us manage the business.
This is our first foray into restaurant ownership. So far, so good. We are having a blast!
19. What appealed to you about opening a restaurant?
We love great food! It's a difficult business, no doubt about it, but it's something we have a tremendous amount of personal passion for. By delivering great food and great service we really think you can have a positive impact on people. Great food makes people happy!
20. What appealed to you about your location in Ponte Vedra?
Well, it's paradise for starters! We felt like we had an opportunity to really have a positive impact on the culture here in Ponte Vedra. We set out to do something that is completely unique to this area. We also really believe with the Sawgrass Village renovations going on, this will become the center of town that it should naturally be.
21. How did you end up in Florida?
Travis has a fantastic job at the PGA Tour. We moved here for his job, and fell in love with this area. Now, we're here for good!