Olive Branch Express spices up downtown with new venue

Simply Good Eatery soon to be replaced by the Olive Branch Express on Thursday. Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer
Simply Good Eatery soon to be replaced by the Olive Branch Express on Thursday.
Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

By Rob Bradfield
Staff Writer

Downtown shoppers at Spice Village have a new place to get food while on-the-go.

The Olive Branch Bakery and Cafe, a local eatery founded by 1998 Baylor graduate Leah Stewart, is expanding its operations by opening a new location on Monday Jan. 30, in the Spice Village shops on Franklin Avenue.

The expansion, called Olive Branch Express, will take over the location of Simply Good Eatery.

Simply Good Eatery was opened in 2004 by Jennifer Wilson, owner of Spice Village, to give her customers and other downtown shoppers a place to get a quick, inexpensive lunch.

Wilson was approached several weeks ago by Stewart and Jonathan Garza of Red Cap Consulting about converting her small restaurant into the Olive Branch Express.

Wilson, who has been refocusing on the retail side of Spice Village, quickly accepted the offer.

“This was the perfect opportunity for me to transfer [the Eatery] to someone else,” Wilson said.

The Olive Branch Express will take over the quick lunch business downtown, offering a menu featuring some ready-made versions of their classic sandwiches, salads and items from their catering menu.

Among the new items are lasagna, king ranch chicken and enchiladas.

The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and food will be available at the Spice Village main counter until 6:00 p.m.

Olive Branch Express will also offer family-size versions of their signature dishes, and opportunities to reserve the new space for private parties and receptions.

Space has been a recurring issue for Olive Branch, but with the new location, the owners hope to accommodate more private parties and lunchtime customers.

According to Jonathan Garza, Olive Branch’s popularity as a lunch location is part of what prompted the expansion.

“Everybody takes their lunch break between 11:30 and 1:30, and now if our line is too long they can just go upstairs,” Garza said.

Both owners agree that much of the old restaurant’s charm will be preserved in the expansion. Among the concepts that the new eatery will adopt are the quick service and the “$5 lunch.” “Aside from a little menu change and a staff change, it will still be a great place to eat and hang out,” Wilson said.