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Pegula daughters open Healthy Scratch organic cafe at HarborCenter

It looks like Kelly and Jessie Pegula got the enterprise gene from their parents.

The daughters of Buffalo Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula launched a new organic cafe Monday inside the Shops at HaborCenter, just south of the Buffalo Marriott across from Canalside.

The Healthy Scratch will offer a variety of fresh dine-in or take-out options made as often as possible with organic ingredients. Fare will include smoothies, healthy food bowls, specialty toasts, cold-pressed juices, salads, wraps and more.

"We hope you enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle, just like we do," the sisters scribbled for opening day on a chalkboard inside the cafe, which sits next to Clayton's Toys & Gifts, and Fowler's chocolates.

“We have been inspired by our parents’ business success and share their passion for the city of Buffalo,” said Kelly Pegula, who is working on a business and marketing degree at Penn State University. “They have inspired Jessie and me to start our own business here in Buffalo. The development of our region, recent trends in the health food industry, and our passion for both has made this venture extremely meaningful for us.”

The Healthy Scratch team unveiled the new HarborCenter healthy cafe on Monday. They are, from left, cafe GM Kristina Black, co-owner Kelly Pegula, Dominic Verni, HarborCenter vice president for food and beverages, and Ron Kubiak, director of culinary operations for HarborCenter. (Mark Mulville)/Buffalo News

The Healthy Scratch team unveiled the new HarborCenter healthy cafe on Monday. They are, from left, cafe GM Kristina Black, co-owner Kelly Pegula, Dominic Verni, HarborCenter vice president for food and beverages, and Ron Kubiak, director of culinary operations for HarborCenter. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Jessie Pegula credits her healthy, organic eating regimen for part of her success as a professional tennis player. She and her sister already have designed and launched clothing lines under the One Buffalo brand, as well.

The sisters are familiar with several dishes and drinks similar to the ones Healthy Scratch now offers – mostly because of what they've experienced while dining at their home base of South Florida. They believe they can whet appetites in Buffalo with similar fare.

“Basically everything on the menu was inspired by things we’ve tasted,” Kelly Pegula said during a Monday afternoon press conference inside the cafe.

A bowl of Trying to Get Some Leeway at The Healthy Scratch in HarborCenter. (Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News)

Names of the options came from family sayings, she said.

"Trying To Get Some Leeway" – a pitaya (dragonfruit)-base dish topped with pineapple, mango, goji berries, granola, hemp seeds, coconut and honey – "is what we say when we’re trying to get some attention," she said.

"Can’t Be Sure" is a smoothie with spinach, pineapple, avocado, mango and organic apple juice. "We say that because there’s so much going on in our family," Kelly Pegula said.

"Boss Dog" – a smoothie made with pineapple, banana and organic apple juice – was inspired by a concoction Terry Pegula drinks every morning, his daughter said.

“He wanted that on the menu because he wants to be part of (the cafe), as well,” she said.

Arugula, prosciutto and mascarpone toast at The Healthy Scratch in the HarborCenter. (Mark Mulville/The Buffalo News)

The Healthy Scratch hawks its own brand of pressed juices from $7 to $8, build-your-own healthy food bowls for $9 or $9.50, and fresh-blended smoothies for $7 or $7.50.

Kombucha, along with quinoa and kale salads and a variety of wraps, are available to go. Opening day also featured take-out $5 cups of overnight oatmeal in two flavors: peanut butter and banana, and maple French toast.

Dominic Verni, HarborCenter vice president for food and beverages; Ron Kubiak, director of culinary operations for HarborCenter; the Pegula daughters and cafe General Manager Kristina Black spent about two months designing the cafe and bringing it into the marketplace.

Sabres nutritionist Ashley Charlebois also helped with the menu, begging the question: Will this become a regular stop for Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel and their teammates?

“They obviously have a really high interest in these types of foods," Kubiak said, "so we’re going to be working with them, as well, providing some of the juices for the players.”

Eight different smoothies are offered at The Healthy Scratch in Harbor Center. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Branded merchandise also is available for sale in the cafe, including Bills and Sabres New Era Cap Co. 59FIFTY and 39THIRTY ballcaps that Kelly Pegula worked with the Buffalo-based international cap-maker to design, and water bottles and natural beauty products.

Soy candles, and Buffalo Gal soaps, body lotions and butters fill shelves in a small pocket away from the sales counter. Nearby, a service bar features soy milk, almond milk and agave to top off hot and cold coffees.

The new digs are expected to buzz during workday hours, as well as before and after hockey games and special events at HaborCenter and neighboring KeyBank Center.

Patrons will be able to build their own healthy food bowl with a base of acai, pitaya, greens or banana cacao, along with the choice of two fruits – from among goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, banana, kiwi, mango and pineapple – and three dry toppings that this week include bee pollen, cacao, sunflower seeds, granola, hemp, flaxseed, almonds and coconut.

Jalapeno peach toast at The Healthy Scratch in the HarborCenter. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Pressed organic juices include the likes of Loving Life, a blend of apple, lemon, kale, red grape and tart cherry; Starting Today, a combination of apple, kale, lemon, parsley, cucumber, ginger, celery and spinach; and Make Me Young, a fairly thick burst of blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, lemon and apple juices.

Similar $3.50 juice shots feature names like Wellness, Recovery, Flu Shot and Detox.

“The smoothie everybody’s going to be talking about is our play on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Kubiak said. It includes organic peanut butter and fresh-pressed apple juice.

If all goes well, Verni said, the concept may branch out into other locations in Western New York and beyond.

Meanwhile, the HarborCenter VP said, “We’re obviously focused on getting this one off the ground.”

The Healthy Scratch will be open  from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Learn more and check out its menu at


Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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