From the unassuming corner of Casa Grande and South McDowell boulevards, comes a true neighborhood deli. Born from a passion for food and a desire to be an integral part of the community they fell in love with, the owners of Sarah’s Eats & Sweets have raised the bar, not only smoking their own meats, but also preparing just about everything from scratch, in-house. And the items they do not make themselves, they source from local food purveyors.
Sarah’s Eats & Sweets is the collaboration of the wife and husband team of Sarah and Emery Meeks. They initially started their business by selling at Petaluma’s three farmers markets, although Emery called them “farmers marketing” because he knew that the relationships they were forging with vendors and customers would pay dividends once they finally opened a brick and mortar location.
Sarah grew up in Manhattan and on Long Island before attending Cornell University in order to study hospitality administration. After graduation, Sarah worked for the Four Seasons in Philadelphia where she put her studies to practice. After a visit to California, Sarah relocated to the West Coast, choosing the North Bay so she could attend the Culinary Institute of America.
It was at the CIA where Sarah met instructor and mentor chef Brenda La Noue, who lives in Petaluma when she is not traveling the world on her food adventures. Chef Brenda became a Petaluma food icon when she opened Petaluma’s Secret Kitchen and continues to wow her guests through her catering company Trade Secret.
She is also a huge supporter of local food purveyors, along with any new restaurateur who asks for help. While teaching at the CIA, chef Brenda took food field trips to Petaluma, which is how Sarah learned about, and fell in love with the community.
“We’re grateful with how welcoming and supportive our new friends and neighbors have been and appreciate every single person that walks through our door,” says Sarah.
Sarah would later go on to train at Yountville’s Michelin-starred Redd restaurant, where she credits her proficiency in speed and organization in a working kitchen. While studying and working in Napa Valley, Sarah met her husband Emery, who was working at a wine tasting room and handling customer service for a friend’s company.
“Emery is a natural at handling our guests,” says Sarah. After moving to Petaluma, Sarah started working for Park Avenue Catering in Cotati, which is owned by Executive Chef Bruce Riezenman, who among other projects, used to own Petaluma’s Buona Sera Ristorante.
Riezenman’s current ventures include Cotati’s Park Avenue Catering, Sonoma’s Park 121 Café & Grill and Glen Ellen’s Stellar Catering, while his former projects included Prospect Park Restaurant (Santa Rosa) and Buona Sera Ristorante. Sarah worked as Riezenman’s pastry chef, something she had never done before.
Never afraid of a challenge, she quickly honed her skills to the point where she was selling her own baked goods at Petaluma’s farmers markets while she searched for a space to call her own. “I am so thankful for Bruce’s support,” says Sarah. “He let us use his commercial kitchen to start our little business, and has been totally supportive ever since.”
Sarah’s tutelage en route to opening Sarah’s Eats & Sweets is clearly a who’s who of local culinary icons. Her education and training in all aspects of restaurant management put her in a great position to open her own place, which also fulfilled both her and Emery’s dream of working together.