Two couples in the Sweet Pea pod

May 31, 2021

MARION — For co-owner of Sweet Pea Kitchen Michelle Petrulio, Marion is a place for culinary creativity.

Petrulio and co-owner April Bloomfield run the catering business, formerly Harriet’s, with their respective partners, Kim Holbrook and Amy Hou.

The group was working in New York City when the pandemic hit.

“Our jobs kept us in New York forever,” Holbrook said.

But eventually — they decided.

“Let’s just go for it,” Petrulio said.

Petrulio and Holbrook sold their house, and decided to move to Marion (convincing Bloomfield and Hou to do the same), where Petrulio’s brother and parents live.

“I think we were all just so tired of the city,” Petrulio said.

Petrulio and Bloomfield were ready to get out of the intensity that is the New York restaurant scene.

“We just wanted to get back to simple food,” Petrulio said. “Get away from the food critics … all the chaos that comes with the city.”

Holbrook said it was hard to find a community in New York, but Marion has been welcoming.

Sweet Pea has a rotating menu, and Petrulio and Holbrook said they’re working on bringing more “retail stuff” to the business. One offering they’re working on lunch boxes, catered for Marion’s sailing community. They’re also looking to start selling other retail items, like bottled sauces.

“Almost like a little grocery with homemade stuff people can buy,” Holbrook said.

Additionally, Holbrook said they’re “wildly dreaming” of expanding their idea for lunch boxes into a boat, which would hand-deliver food to seafarers.

Since moving from New York, Petrulio said she’s had the ability to get more creative with her food.

“In New York it becomes so little about the food because it’s so hard to stay open,” she said.

“We have a lot more breathing room,” Holbrook added.

Despite taking over the longstanding Harriet’s, which was owned by Patty Nicholson, Petrulio and Holbrook said Sweet Pea has been received well by the community.

“We have an understanding that we can never replace somewhere like that,” Petrulio said, adding that Sweet Pea still attempts to do Harriet’s Justice when it can. (They have their own clam chowder, for instance, in homage to the popular item at Harriet’s).

“It’s nice to see Patty take her first break in 40 years,” Petrulio said.