“Kennett Square is a great place to have a business!” This was Tim Courtney’s enthusiastic statement, when I recently interviewed him about his two-year-old restaurant, Mary Pat’s Provisions at The Market at Liberty Place.
There is a feeling of warmth and invitation that one experiences when approaching to order from the Mary Pat’s Provision counter. The promise is “honest-to-goodness scratch cooking made simply and justly with good healthful intent.” Along with this, the name Mary Pat Provisions aptly evokes a feeling of home. “Mary” for Tim’s grandmother, “Pat” for his mother, with “Provisions” being food staples---fresh coffee, baked breads, eggs, meats, fruits and vegetables.
Tim admits he has been cooking his entire life. From little up, he enjoyed putting something together in the kitchen. Watching the food channels on TV, he was inspired to test his creativity. It wasn’t until his teens that he realized that cooking could actually be a real profession. He went the whole way, applied and was accepted into the top culinary school in the country, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2001.
Then, the journey began, working at restaurants and catering jobs from Wayne to the Main Line. Tim put in long hours and gained a wealth of experience, which he said he enjoyed very much. It wasn’t until he approached his 40s’ that he decided to pause and regroup. He realized he needed to get off the high intensity food industry highway, which he thought was becoming more focused on the chef instead of the customer.
This all resulted in taking a year off. He did some soul searching and realized that he wanted to start his own business. It would be something small, personal, demanding fewer working hours and be something he could challenge himself to build from the bottom up as the sole proprietor.
In January 2018, an opportunity came up around the rental space up front at The Market at Liberty Place. Tim saw this as a perfect fit for what he was envisioning and was off and running by April of 2018. His goal was to provide essential eats with emphasis on the product and good sound culinary technique. He believes in fresh and local, and supports the local area farms, suppliers and secondary businesses. One can dine at one of the convenient tables around The Market or can take-away options. One review on their face book page describes Mary Pat’s Provisions as the “best brunch place in the area.”
In response to the question of what his philosophy was around staffing, he quickly says, “I hire people, not resumes. The applicant doesn’t need to have any culinary experience; I can teach the basics. The important qualities I am looking for are---honesty, as we all make mistakes and can learn from them if we are honest; a friendly manner and strong desire to work.”
The advice he gives to aspiring entrepreneurs, “Do your homework; know what you love and commit fully.”
As for the town of Kennett Square, Tim Courtney said he is pleased that there are no chain restaurants in the borough, helping keep the historic ambiance. He is surprised at how familiar it feels to be here. He has been welcomed and embraced by the community and admits that this doesn’t happen everywhere.
When thinking of a quality that is core to the town, he agrees that it is “generosity.”
“I continue to be amazed at the consistent support among borough business owners and loyal repeat customers”, Tim said. “It’s just part of the Kennett culture to do this and now I am part of this culture and plan to be here for a long time.”