Family flocks together to build Hummingbird House

| 27 May 2014 | 01:57

Two local women and their family have transformed the Mattison House, on Route 94 in Newton, into an elegant-yet-affordable culinary destination.

The transformation
It all started when Sheryl Biron saw the building — that for years housed The Tea Hive — was for sale and her mind started spinning. The Hampton resident's daughter, Elizabeth, was a culinary ace who'd worked in all facets of the restaurant business and dreamed of one day owning her own restaurant.

Elizabeth was living and working in Florida at the time, and mom had an idea that could make her daughter's dream come true and also bring her back home. She picked up the phone and what started as, perhaps, a whim, has blossomed into a very popular breakfast, brunch and luncheon restaurant called The Hummingbird House.

The women officially purchased the building last September and began massive renovations including putting in a new, commercial kitchen, adding a back porch, central heating and air-conditioning, lots of painting and adding electric wiring.

Michael Biron, Sheryl's son and Elizabeth's brother, orchestrated the wiring for the music and has helped out in numerous other ways.

Menu makeover
Renovations were one aspect, but another was the menu. The Kittatinny High graduate started her culinary career at Penn State where Elizabeth received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Hotel Restaurant Institutional Management with a focus in Nutrition and Human Resources. She then followed a career path helping others open and manage different operations.

"She's seen and worked in so many facets of the culinary business that I knew she was very well versed in creating a successful restaurant," Sheryl Biron said of her daughter.

The menu had to be perfect, Elizabeth Biron said, and it had to include certain nuances influenced by her father, Mike, who had died in 2008, and her grandmother, "Mema" Elizabeth Lopatesky.

"Dad loved making breakfast," Elizabeth said, "So I wanted the breakfast menu to include things he would have liked."

To this end, she's done such things as spending two-and-a-half hours just to select the right bacon for the restaurant. As for her grandmother, Elizabeth had great childhood memories of cooking with her and her mother. In her grandma's later years up until the day she died, she made lunches for priests near where she lived.

The restaurant name and logo also has significance. The hummingbird has meaning because after Mike's death, hummingbirds seemed to strangely frequent the family. The name of the restaurant became a no-brainer, consequently, and they added a mountain into the logo to represent the Burgess Adirondack Mountain where his ashes rest.

Elizabeth's precision regarding the menu has resulted in egg platters, numerous types of omelettes including a create-your-own, pancakes (including chocolate chip and a "pancake de jour"), French toast and breakfast sandwiches.

The menu parleys into lunch offerings which includes the Hummingbird Cod Cake, Buffalo Chicken Dip served with homemade chips and crackers, a selection of meats and cheeses served with a fresh rustic loaf of homemade pesto, an array of burgers, burger wraps and then there are the Hummingbird House's Paninis.

"A woman came in and could not stop talking about them," the Birons said, "She said she'd been craving a Panini all weekend but didn't know where to get a good, homemade one. She just kept on raving about it which was a wonderful compliment."

The menu also includes a lot of salads and one named for grandma — Mema's Potato Salad. There is also an array of sandwiches and wraps as well as an offering of soups. There is no dessert menu, because the desserts are ever-changing and include a daily selection of confections.

Country classy
When it comes to the decor, the tables are intentionally mismatched to give a country ambiance. The coffee cups are toille and there are a variety of plates.

One thing you won't find is plastic.

"We keep it country classy," said Sheryl. "We've gotten so many compliments from our customers and everyone likes the food and that's what counts."

They also cater to special dietary needs such as gluten free, vegetarian and diabetic friendly. Patrons need only ask the staff, and special offerings will be created. The Hummingbird House is also available for special events and has already hosted a number of showers and this summer, will host a wedding.

"We wanted to create a comfortable country setting," Sheryl said. "And we're thrilled with how it's gone so far."