Starlight Cafe

One of my favorite places to eat in Greenville.

The family that owns and operates Greenville's Starlight Cafe has purchased a Pitt County farm, with plans for producing organic vegetables, fruits — and even beef — for use in their seasonal menu of continental fare.

It's a dream come true for Alan and Susan Boutilier and their extended family.

“Ever since I can remember, my father was a gardener,” Alan Boutilier writes in an email to “Hot Dish.”

“I can't think of a summer spent without freshly picked vegetables on our dinner table. As we ate, the conversation often would revolve around the food we were eating, the garden and often how the present garden compared to the previous year's. There was always something to talk about: the weather, the new varieties, and even the neighbor's garden.

“One reoccurring theme from my Belgian mother, a gourmet cook par excellence, was her idea of owning a restaurant where we could serve the produce we grew,” he writes. “We all knew that when the vegetables were freshly picked and served within hours, their taste and texture was so much better than what could be bought in the grocery store. She and my dad worked in the garden together and she nurtured the dream of owning a restaurant.

“When my wife Susan and I were married in 1976, we carried on the same love for gardening and the same fantasy of a farm/restaurant. Her father was a gardener too, and she listened to many of the same conversations about her father's vegetable plot. By 1984, we had our first restaurant in California and had a small garden at home, but only combined the two minimally. We would bring fresh herbs and flowers into the restaurant, but we simply didn't have enough space for a constant supply.

“Shortly after we moved to Greenville in 1998, we opened Starlight Cafe with the same concept of serving the freshest, most nutritious meat and vegetables,” he writes. “We buy as much as we can from our local farmers and watermen and grow many of our own herbs. Once again our dream of growing food ourselves for the restaurant had to wait due to lack of garden space.

“In early January, after casually searching for a farm over the past several years, with help from our real estate agent Bill Fleming, we came upon the perfect location. We found a 100-year-old farm only minutes away from the restaurant on the outskirts of Greenville. After being in the business for 27 years our family dream is coming true.

“This summer there is much to do,” Boutilier writes. “Though we will be supplying some vegetables to the restaurant, most of the summer will be devoted to repairing the barn and fences, renewing the orchard, planting cover crops and restoring the farmhouse.

“The future will bring raising heritage livestock breeds, beekeeping, planting berries, cultivating mushrooms, processing pecans, restoring pastures and experimenting with different sustainable and organic methods of growing.

“This project is a dream coming to realization through two generations and an exciting one for our family and everyone involved. We envision this as a process which can involve a whole community, and benefit all of us, especially our customers,” he writes.

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