True Salvage Café in Maplewood combines a love for art and a passion for cooking.
Walking into the establishment, one is immediately greeted by many antiques and knickknacks that fill the space and walls. All of the unique decorations are from the owner David Heffernan’s lifelong personal collection. Before opening the café, Heffernan worked in the art business for over 50 years.
Signe Heffernan, daughter of David Heffernan, is the chef and “mastermind of the business.” She attended culinary school 12 years ago and had worked for Danny Meyer’s catering company in NYC.
“I got my inspiration and love for food from Danny,” Signe said. True Salvage Café, located at 292 Elmwood Ave., is inspired by both David and Signe’s careers and passions. David, the artistic director, is responsible for building the feel of the eatery while Signe creates all of the dishes.
“I change 90% of the menu every day,” Signe said. “But the egg sandwiches are always available.”
She said that the specials for the day depend on her interests and what she buys from farms in the tri-state area. Farm fresh cooking is something Signe is very passionate about and incorporates into all of her dishes.
Alexandra Vanegas, a junior journalism major, said she has never been to the café, but is interested in trying it out.
“I pass True Salvage Café every day on the way to school and on the way back,” Vanegas said. “The aesthetic looks really cool; I’m into it.”
Signe said the type of food they serve is hard to describe or categorize.
“Our dishes are very eclectic,” Signe said. “We serve homestyle, very simple, from-scratch cooking which are all my own recipes.”
Everything is made in the house by Signe, except for the bread and croissants, which come from Balthazar Bakery in NYC. Signe said the avocado toast, taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwiches and bread pudding are the café’s most popular items.
“Our taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich was written about multiple times, including on nj.com,” Signe said.
Jay’ci Chevalier, a junior interactive design and multimedia major, said he is also planning on visiting the café.
“It’s less than 10 minutes from Seton Hall,” Chevalier said. “The brownies and chocolate chip cookies look like must-haves.”
Chevalier said he is also a fan of the environment that Heffernan created.
“The exposed brick, wood floors and old-fashioned décor seem to create a very warm and welcoming space,” Chevalier said.
As longtime Maplewood residents, Heffernan and Signe said they strive to make their eatery a part of the community. “We host Borden Park association meetings,” Signe said.
Some residents find Borden Park to be a popular spot in Maplewood, as it contains a multi-purpose field, tennis courts and a playground.
Although the café is not in the center of town, Signe has high hopes for the area in which they are located.
“This part of Maplewood is starting to develop and get a lot more people,” Signe said.
Their Instagram, @truesalvagecafe, features specials, events and photos of the food posted daily. The café is open Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Michele Ricciardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu.