Fig Tree Cafe in Marstons Mills opened by Italian immigrant daughter


Maria Ferguson says she always knew she wanted to open a restaurant one day and would call it Fig Tree Cafe.

It’s the first restaurant she’s owned and, she says, it’s fulfilling what has “always been my dream”.

The name is linked to his Italian immigrant parents, the late Francesco and Liboria Petralia.

“Both my parents are Sicilian and fig trees grow everywhere there. My father, in addition to being a great cook, was an extraordinary gardener and grew fig trees here, which is not easy to do in this climate. Then my mom made fig biscotti with the figs.

Two years ago, Ferguson was working the counter at Café Chew in Sandwich when one of his bosses, Bob King, who is also a real estate agent, saw that the Mills restaurant in Marstons Mills was for sale.

“My hunch was just that it would be a good place for her, a great location, and she could afford it,” King says.

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Ferguson opened Fig Tree in September 2020, six months into the pandemic.

“It was a turnkey operation,” she says. “I bought it one day and opened it the next. The previous owners trained me. I was actually grateful for the slowness during COVID because I was learning how to run my own restaurant.

Pulled pork Huevos Rancheros at Fig Tree Cafe can be ordered with chicken eggs or duck eggs.

One of the first things she learned, Ferguson says, was that huge coffee mugs that looked stylish weren’t practical because they held so much coffee that people couldn’t pour it. drink before it gets cold.

King, who owns Café Chew with partner Tobin Wirt, says he saw a quality in Ferguson that bodes well for a first-time restaurant owner.

“When you buy a new restaurant, you have to ask yourself, ‘What ideas are you going to come up with that will make the place better?’ and ‘What should we keep?’ People make the mistake of changing too much, but Maria knows she’s not.

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Changes diners will notice include the name and some of the decor. Ferguson asked his friend Chris Ferguson (no relation) to paint a fig tree mural on the back wall. The lunch counter near the kitchen has been removed and replaced with a wooden breakfast bar located against the front window. Suncatchers hanging above cast whimsical shadows on the highly polished bar, which also features a painted fig tree.

Homemade Hollandaise sauce is poured over Eggs Benedict in the kitchen at Fig Tree Cafe.

Ferguson once sold tomato sauce and homemade salsa at farmers markets and made condiments with her daughters for their Spice Girlz business. So with experience working in restaurants and health food, another goal, Ferguson says, is to incorporate more organic and healthy choices on the menu.

The Fig Tree now offers a full line of smoothies ($8.95) made with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as supplements including, more recently, CBD oil, which is said to help with anxiety, stress and some forms of pain.

Other healthy choices include avocado toast ($10.95), a bowl of veggie quinoa for $9.95 (with two eggs for an extra $3), and a veggie hummus wrap ($10.95 ).

Ferguson has kept many dishes from The Mills – and their chef, Jamaican-born Oneil Reid, who notes: “He’s my third owner.” But Ferguson has tweaked the menu.

Organic duck eggs are now available – “The yolk is creamier and richer and the white is bigger,” says Ferguson – for an additional $5 for two. There’s Pulled Pork Huevos Rancheros ($13.95), Famous Corned Beef Hash ($13.95 with two eggs and toast), and pancakes, French toast, and waffles with your choice of half a dozen fruits and nuts.

The pistachio donuts, one of the things Fig Tree Cafe owner Maria Ferguson has saved from the restaurant's days as The Mills, are healthier because they're baked, not fried.

The Fig Tree Cafe still offers the baked pistachio donuts ($3.75 each) which were a popular choice at The Mills and offered a healthier option than most donuts, which are fried.

“And this morning I was baking gluten-free banana nut muffins,” says Ferguson, who does most of the baking. “Everything is homemade from scratch. I think that’s why people come here.”

The Fig Tree Cafe offers a dozen sandwiches, including burgers; half a dozen salads; and at least two homemade soups each day (tomato basil, $4.95 cup/$5.95 bowl and clam chowder, $5.95/$7.50).

“One thing I’m proud of is that when I first opened the place we mainly served breakfast…and now it’s about 50-50 for breakfast. breakfast and lunch, which I wanted,” she said. .

Owner Maria Ferguson and chef Oneil Reid at the Fig Tree Cafe in Marstons Mills.  She is holding baked pistachio donuts.

Ferguson runs the 42-seat fig tree with a staff of 10, though she worries she can hire enough workers, including cooks, for what is expected to be a busy summer.

The Fig Tree Cafe held temporary outdoor dining last year due to the pandemic and it was very popular. Ferguson says she’s waiting for a decision from the city before her boyfriend, Chris McKernan, builds a more permanent patio with a pergola.

The Fig Tree Cafe attracts community groups and regulars who come several times a week.

“When one of our regulars was sick, we would take a picture of one of the servers who usually serves him with a ‘We miss you!’ and I texted him,” Ferguson said.

She says she likes her restaurant to be a community gathering place where she spends her days feeding people.

“I remember the first thing I made when I was a child: it was a carrot cake. I remember every detail: grating the carrots, crushing the dough with my hands. And I remember at how happy I was when everyone loved him.”

Gwenn Friss can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter: @dailyrecipeCCT/.

149 Cotuit Road, Marstons Mills

508-428-9814; https://www.figtreecafecapecod.com/

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays; 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday (breakfast only)

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