When Carrie Morabito started Friend of a Farmer in 1986, it was a tiny, six-table café serving baked goods, sandwiches and homemade preserves in Gramercy Park. The cozy, family atmosphere and its delicious farm-to-table food quickly made it a neighborhood favorite.
Thirty-two years later, Friend of a Farmer is now a two-story townhouse, is one of New York City’s farm-to-table pioneers and is a destination for both locals and tourists. There’s another restaurant, Stuey’s Smokehouse BBQ in Locust Valley, Long Island, and a signature coffee line, Farmer’s Blend. Carrie continues to play an active role in the restaurant, overseeing the menus and the kitchen but the day-to-day running of the restaurant has become a family affair.
Her sons, Taylor and Weston, have taken an active role in the restaurant as director of operations/beverage director and assistant director of operations, respectively, while trying to keep up with their mom.
“She’s incredibly hard working and truly passionate about what she has created these past 32 years at Friend of a Farmer,” Weston said. “Outside of that, she’s probably the most selfless, loving person I know. She’s a mentor for my siblings and me and for those that work for her.”
Growing Up in the Restaurant Industry
Working alongside their mother, Taylor and Weston have done everything from helping to build the restaurant’s furniture to managing the restaurant to currently overseeing the front-of-house operations. In a way they were destined to follow in their mother’s footsteps. They grew up seeing their parents’ work firsthand. In the 1990s, there was a Friend of a Farmer location in Roslyn on Long Island. Right around the corner from the family’s home.
“My siblings and I would ride our bikes after school to hang with our parents and the staff,” Taylor said. “We also celebrated dozens of birthdays, engagements and bridal showers with extended family. Some of my earliest memories took place at the restaurant.”
Despite the challenges and often hectic pace of the restaurant industry, Taylor said it was only natural he went into the restaurant industry as its lifestyle was something he was both accustomed to and continues to find motivating.
The family-run atmosphere is apparent throughout the restaurant. Stepping inside feels like being whisked out of the city and into the French countryside. Most of the staff has worked at the restaurant for more than five years and gives off the experience and warmth that can only come after being intimately familiar with a restaurant.
“It’s truly a blessing and helps add to the warmth our guests feel when they choose to dine with us,” Taylor said.
They have no plans on slowing down anytime soon. The family is working on expanding the selling of their coffee, breads and jams (currently available through their website) and there might be some additional expansion on the horizon as well.
For Mother’s Day, though, Taylor is hoping they’ll be taking a break from the restaurant life to celebrate at home on Long Island.