Movable feast: Rachel's moves to MDO

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MANCHESTER —When opportunity knocked on Rachel's Gourmet Foods' door, owner Amanda Morris answered it with optimism.

Morris, who wanted her business "to be more prevalent," has recently moved her restaurant from Main Street in Manchester to Manchester Designer Outlet's Manchester Square building, located on Depot Street.

While business has always been good for Morris, the move has added to that success. With increased visibility, added foot traffic, convenient parking, and a larger space allowing for more tables, she has seen new customers - as well as the regulars - walking through her door.

"I'm proud to be part of the MDO team," Morris said about her recent location change.

The new space has an industrial, yet welcoming feel - yellow walls, exposed heating ducts, ceramic flooring, a high slanted ceiling, and large windows facing Depot Street and Richville Road that bring in tons of natural light to warm the place. The larger area, complimented by the decor, creates a comfortable, stylish atmosphere.

While there is ample space on the inside, this summer Morris plans to add outdoor seating on the patio located off Depot Street.

With that in mind, Morris, who currently has a liquor license that allows her to sell beer and wine for take-out, has recently applied for a license that will enable her customers to drink their refreshing beverages on site - think warm summer afternoon while dining alfresco with a chilled glass of Chardonnay.

Although Rachel's location and liquor license has changed, Morris' love of food and cooking, which she credits to growing up in a family that made cooking a priority, has remained the same. As has Rachel's menu, which still includes all the prepared food favorites - chicken pot pie, quiche and Morris' well-known chilis - turkey and vegetarian. Morris also continues to set out an array of salads including her tomato, cuke and feta salad, kale salad and some of the classics like chicken, egg and tuna salad.

And, of course, Rachel's still serves deli sandwiches and paninis.

Even though Rachel's is known as a lunch place, Morris, thanks to her new, convenient location, is considering opening up earlier than the usual 10 a.m. to provide muffins and coffee for those heading to the mountain.

There have been some changes at Rachel's Gourmet Foods since Morris purchased the establishment sixteen years ago. But one thing that hasn't changed is the name. When people ask Morris why the name Rachel's for her restaurant she laughs and says, "I get that a lot." Sometimes, she'll say it's the name of her dog but the truth is that was the name of the place when she bought it from a woman named Rachel.

And, while Morris admits her younger self didn't have the confidence to change the name of a business that had been successful for fifteen years, she could change it now. But, why would she? It's working.

Rachel's Gourmet Foods is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM. For information regarding catering or the menu, you can go to Rachel's updated Facebook page or send her an email at akm315@yahoo.com.

Anne Archer is a Journal correspondent.

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