volunteer park cafe.jpg
Curt Doughty

Part two of our interview with the ladies from Volunteer Park Cafe. You can read the first half here


What were your


Grillaxin' with Heather Earnhardt and Ericka Burke, Part Two

volunteer park cafe.jpg
Curt Doughty

Part two of our interview with the ladies from Volunteer Park Cafe. You can read the first half here


What were your culinary inspirations?

EB: I moved to NYC when I was nineteen to pursue an acting career, but ended up falling in love with the restaurant business--the fast paced, creative and anxiety-driven craziness of it all. Farmers markets and the sustainable movement were just gaining popularity and I loved it.

I moved to San Francisco years later, where sustainability and organic farming were on fire and the focus of so many notable chefs. And I was deeply influenced by women chefs such as, Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, Joyce Goldstein, all of whom I had the opportunity to study with at the CIA in Napa.

HE: My Granny...and being raised in the south. Granny is known as the "Cake Lady of Salisbury, North Carolina." She ran a catering business out of her kitchen and she was always baking, using her Sunbeam mixer, making birthday cakes and tiered wedding cakes with all kinds of decorations. She did everything. But no matter how busy she was, I remember when people came by she would stop whatever she was doing and sit down with them, visit with them.

Even now when things are broken or not working properly, I use the"Granny touch" to make it right. And a lot of the recipes here, like the pumpkin muffins, are Granny's recipe.

EB: And the Brownstone Front cake.

HE: Oh yes, definitely the Brownstone Front cake.

What's a Brownstone Front Cake?

HE: Only the best cake ever. It's so good, but it takes a lot of work. It's not quite chocolate, not quite caramel. People love the Brownstone Front cake. We'll have one here to celebrate our third anniversary.

Do you have anything else planned for the anniversary?

EB:We'll do a dinner special to celebrate three years, probably three courses for thirty dollars. We're not as well-known for our dinners, which are fantastic. We're a cafe by day, but a bistro by night. There's a totally different vibe her for dinners, and I don't think that many people realize that.

What have you learned over the last few years running VPC?

EB: Well, there was always the risk that we could go totally crazy, but I've learned all that doesn't really matter. We both care so much and are committed to making this place work. We're very different people, but we've learned to be flexible.

HE: I've learned to be meaner.

EB: And I like to think that I've softened. Long after this place this gone, we'll still be friends. It's remarkable, really. I get pretty emotional when I think about it. We created this place on intuition, and now it's become a place where everyday we are caring for family and friends.

HE: Our customers have become our friends, our community. A woman who comes in regularly remembered that I mentioned that I wanted to learn to play the cello. So she bought me lessons and now every week I get together with her and we take lessons and play the cello together.

EB: Seriously?

HE: Seriously.

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