NEW ALBANY — Linda Williams prides herself on her restaurant’s food.
Everything is made from scratch at Chestnut and Pearls: Art, Antiques and Cafe 157, named for its address on East Main Street in New Albany. That includes its breakfast, lunch and — coming back Valentine’s Day weekend — dinner.
“We get a lot of people who come in here and say, ‘oh my god. This is so good,’” Williams said about her food.
And she hopes the newest addition to her cafe, which has been open for about eight months, will keep her customers exclaiming.
Williams, who used to own the Old Bridge Inn Bed and Breakfast in Jeffersonville, recently hired Billy Wyatt, a New Albany native, to assume some of her cooking duties.
Wyatt just moved back to Southern Indiana in November after 22 years sharpening knives — and his skills — in Florida restaurants.
One of his stints was as an assistant executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort in Orlando.
There, Wyatt learned how to make quality food fast and how to be creative with dishes, he said.
When the last restaurant he worked for was sold, however, Wyatt decided to move back to his hometown to reunite with family.
“I packed up, moved home and I found home here,” Wyatt said about Cafe 157.
The restaurant’s menu of home-cooked favorites, such as meatloaf and corned beef, will stay mostly the same even with Wyatt's addition, Williams said, but she’ll still give him room to tout his talents, particularly at dinner.
Wyatt’s time in the south taught him how to cook a mean jambalaya, and he intends to.
Roz and Jeff Wolverton, Cafe 157 regulars, enjoy both Williams’ and Wyatt's culinary stylings.
They find themselves in the restaurant a few times a week.
“The food is excellent, and the price is quite reasonable,” Jeff said. “And the service is just so. They don’t over attend. They’re not overly attentive, but they’re attentive. That’s just what you want.”
But Cafe 157 is about more than just food.
It holds an antique store on its second floor and an art gallery with the purchasable work of about 10 local artists on its first floor.
Williams, an artist herself, wanted to showcase nearby talent when she bought 157 E. Main St.
In fact, an art gallery was primarily all Williams’ building was several months before she opened Cafe 157. But Williams has a philosophy.
“I’m always changing,” she said. “Not just with this. You have to keep reinventing yourself in any kind of business…You have to keep it new and fresh just like you’re marriage.”
That’s why she’s added dinner and alcohol to her restaurant’s menu, which used to only feature breakfast and lunch. And it’s why she hired Wyatt.