By Anna Lothson
A former Oak Parker's latest venture will bring brunch to a vacant spot in the Hemingway District this summer.
Mary Moy-Gregg, an Elmhurst resident who was raised in Oak Park, will bring her take on early and mid-day meals with OMG! Brunch and Boutique.
The restaurant will be moving into 100 S. Oak Park Ave., and though it's vacant now, the space will soon be renovated and turned into a place where residents can grab a bite and view the work of local artists.
"I've kind of combined my love of food with the arts," Moy-Gregg said.
She backs the philosophy that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and believes it can enlighten people's morning when they engage in the meal together. She's also looking at this as an opportunity to bring people their favorite breakfast items in a fresher and healthier manner. This means offering smaller portions, calorie counts on the menus, and cooking with healthier ingredients.
The concept for the brunch boutique came to Moy-Gregg while on a recent journey to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz. She's been a widow for two years now and was looking for a new adventure.
Mixing cultures was nothing new to her since she is Chinese and her husband was Polish. She'd only made Chinese food until she met her husband, and after spending time traveling the world and tasting the flavors of different countries, she learned to incorporate them into her own cooking.
"I've enjoyed fine dining all over the world," she said. "And I've had breakfast all around the world."
Brunch growing up meant dim sum, a traditional Chinese meal, but she soon discovered she loved items like corned beef hash and traditional savory French crepes. She's still deciding how her love for so many foods can be wrapped into one small menu.
"I want food done right," she emphasized. "I don't think Americans eat right. … There are too many eggs or too much cheese. It's too heavy. We're not eating right. I think we can do comfort food right."
Moy-Gregg won't be doing it alone, however, as she'll be joined by chef Tom Chino Yamauchi, who has worked in many fine dining restaurants. OMG! Brunch and Boutique is still a work-in-progress, but Moy-Gregg is excited to offer healthy and natural items, many of which will be influenced by foods from around the globe. She will support local farmers when possible and has plans to give a portion of her profits to a chosen charity.
"It's been a long journey," she said about getting started in the restaurant business. "But this was the right time for me."
An official opening date hasn't been set yet, but she hopes to be ready in June or July.