The day after Cinnamon-N-Sage opened last week, Davey Brown shared the restaurant's origin story in a lengthy Facebook post.
“Please bear with me and let me tell you a story," he wrote.
It began with his father's heart attack in 2014 that “brought my family to their knees."
His father, Brown said, went to fast-food restaurants for almost every meal. While his dad was in the hospital, Brown and several of his family members talked about the lack of healthy fast-food options in the area.
“At that moment we decided that would change,” Brown said. “We said there can be a place like that. Why don’t we create it?”
A few months later, Brown teamed up with his mother, Robin, an experienced chef, and her girlfriend Tracey McGinn, who recently graduated from culinary school, to open a Cinnamon-N-Sage, a food truck specializing in speedy, healthy meals.
“We soon realized starting a restaurant is insanely expensive,” he said. “We worked slow and steady for a long time. We wanted to build a base.”
After three years of operating the food truck at the Freight House Farmers Market and other pop-up locations, the crew was ready to take on the next phase of their dream: opening a restaurant.
Cinnamon-N-Sage, held its grand opening last Wednesday at at 1115 W. 2nd St Suite D, Davenport.
“Literally blood, sweat, tears and extreme hours have gone into getting these doors open,” Brown wrote near the end of the Facebook post. “And today is finally the day.”
On the menu
During their three seasons at the farmers market, Robin Brown and McGinn got to know their customers. They helped those who wanted to lose weight. They helped those who wanted to try eating vegan, vegetarian or start a new diet. Plenty of customers came back every weekend.
Those encounters gave the pair confidence in opening Cinnamon-N-Sage at the corner of Myrtle and 2nd Streets, in the space that was formerly Charley Biggs Chicken n' Sauce.
They developed the Cinnamon-N-Sage menu with those customers in mind and with the mission to “provide healthy alternatives for normal lifestyles.”
“We know what it’s like for the soccer mom to be running from thing to thing and only have time to grab McDonald’s,” McGinn, 48, said. “We want to be that other option.”
“There’s not much like us here,” Brown added.
The pair work with whole and fresh foods and lean proteins such as bison, chicken and shrimp and also serve vegetarian dishes.
“When you’re trying to eat healthy, there are some misconceptions,” McGinn said. “You can do more than a chicken breast, side of rice and broccoli.”
In fact, she said, the menu includes familiar dishes made fast, flavorful and healthy.
For example, breakfast options include an omelette, bison steak and eggs or a veggie scramble waffle bowl. Starters include roasted brussel sprouts, a hummus platter and veggie chips. Main dishes include bison-based chili, shepherd's pie, steak, shrimp scampi pasta, chicken pot pie, apple bourbon chicken. For vegetable dishes, try a tomato basil melt, eggplant lasagna or ratatouille.
As they did at the farmers market, Cinnamon-N-Sage gets meat and produce from local farms and vendors such as Winter Bison in Blue Grass, Iowa; Hartz Produce in Wyoming, Illinois; Gilbert’s Grapes, Healthy Harvest Urban Farms in Rock Island; and Hollow Maple Farms in Bennett, Iowa.
Farewell, food truck
The family members behind Cinnamon-N-Sage are happy their food truck days are behind them.
“Food trucks are really hard,” McGinn said. “You’re at the mercy of the weather and have limited space.”
“It’s nice to have an actual kitchen,” Robin Brown, 52, said. “Especially with Iowa weather, this time of year we’d basically be shut down.”
More so, it’s nice to be open full-time. The mobile version of Cinnamon-N-Sage could only operate May through October. Last summer, they launched online ordering to help keep business going during the winter.
Nothing beats having a roof, said Brown’s son, Davey, who acts at the business’ general manager.
“With this, we can do a lot more,” he said. “We can do what we set out to do.”