By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Grafton – For hungry students who attend classes at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, being able to get breakfast or lunch at the Loaves & Fishes Café located right on the campus has been an asset. Recently the café was bought by Simply Delicious Catering and Management and is now known as the Elms Café & Catering. Denise Kapulka-Cariglia, who owns Simply Delicious with her business partner, John Mauro, promises that patrons will continue to enjoy a wide array of fresh and delicious items and entrees.
The Elms Café is located in the Agnes Varis Campus Center, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is also open to the public, not just members of the Tufts community.
Kapulka and Mauro have been in the restaurant and catering world in various capacities for over three decades and as such, bring a great deal of experience to their new venture. Mauro has managed restaurants in Worcester including Derrico’s Restaurant, and then owned and operated Johnny M’s. He continued his career at Hanover Insurance as the food service director as well as operating Simply Delicious Catering and Management. He is a culinary graduate of Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, R.I.
Kapulka has also worked at Derrico’s Restaurant as a night supervisor, at Johnny M’s as an assistant manager and as a per diem chef for the DCU Center’s banquet facility. She has four years of culinary training from Fanning Trade, and a degree in food and beverage management from Newbury College in Brookline.
Ten years ago, she and Mauro teamed up to become business partners, launching Simply Delicious Catering and Management.
When she’s not busy working in the café or catering for her clients, Kapulka is the sales manager and office manager for Knight’s Airport Limousine in Shrewsbury.
“I am very hands-on with the café and catering,” she said. “It’s a very busy life but it’s my passion.”
The opportunity to take over Loaves & Fishes came about, Kapulka said, when the previous owner, Leah Surprenant, wanted to take time off to continue her education. She asked Kapulka and Mauro if they were interested in the opportunity and the two agreed. It worked out so well for all, Kapulka said, that the two business partners decided to purchase the business when that offer was extended to them.
Elms Café will be open Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch. There will be a wide variety of options including cook-to-order entrees. Recent entrees noted (and pictured) on their Facebook page include blueberry pancakes with bacon and hash browns, stuffed chicken breast with rice, sundried tomato, spinach and cheese with a side of roasted vegetables, tofu and vegetable pesto, chicken orzo soup and a blueberry banana smoothie.
Nonprofits may also use the café for their meetings after hours if there are no Tufts events scheduled. The inside space can accommodate up to 125 people while the outside seating area can accommodate 25.
Kapulka and Mauro will continue to run Simply Delicious Catering as well, where they offer off campus catering for any occasion.
“John and I have a lot of experience, both in food services and executive management,” Kapulka said. “We also have a really great staff.”
“We are excited to continue our work here and getting to know many more students and Tufts employees, as well as other members of the public,” she added.
The Elms Café staff also includes Luis Barbosa, executive chef; Tammy Pratt, chef; and Jean Sagerian, event coordinator.
Kapulka is also certified in meeting planning and as such, can help you have a truly successful event, whether it is a bridal or baby shower, wedding, bat/bar mitzvah, barbecue, clam bake or corporate meeting.