This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here
Hello Oma is an inconspicuous little gem sitting directly next to Dopo La Spiaggia on Race Lane in East Hampton. Upon initial glance, it almost looks like a tent is permanently propped up. But within its solid walls is a little piece of home.
“I love East Hampton, as I grew up here and have many great memories of this place. I wanted to create a homey space, where I would like to spend time myself, with a cozy atmosphere, good coffee, and good food,” said owner Kristofer Kalas, who opened Hello Oma with his wife, Galyna. The name “Oma” comes from the Dutch and German word for grandmother. “I wanted to create a place where you feel like you did as a small child being held by your grandmother.”
On the right wall next to the counter hangs a black and white picture of Kalas’s “oma,” holding him and his brother, a tribute to the woman that inspired a business. Kalas’s mother, he said, also took pride in cooking real ingredients for her two growing boys while simultaneously managing a full-time business. Basically, farm-to-table is in his blood.
“I have two amazing godmothers who are farmers and bring us the best and freshest produce I have ever tasted: Regina Whitney of Regina’s Farm and Franca Tantillo of Berried Treasures,” Kalas noted.
This desire for the freshest ingredients carried over when Hello Oma opened its doors, carrying everything needed “to stock a kitchen and make dinner,” he said. The conscientious consumer can purchase in peace. All products are no spray and no pesticide, with a guarantee to have been grown responsibly.
There is also a selection of shelf-stable goods from producers who uphold the same values of sustainability — oil and vinegar from Il Buco in New York City, Amish pickles from Pennsylvania, and Japanese soy, for example. Regulars are seen coming in up to three times a day for Tristar strawberries.
Walk to the counter and order a regular iced coffee, served in a Mason jar, with half regular and half oat milk, as recommended and made by Kalas himself. The bakery section proves satisfying, with bites both large and small. A particular Oma original is the granola mix with almonds, oats, sunflower seeds, and coconuts cooked with olive oil and maple syrup. Put it in yogurt, a cereal bowl, or a snack to go. On a nice day, patrons even have the backyard oasis to enjoy reading a book or relax over conversation, all the while noshing and sipping.
Fall hours are 8 AM to noon during the week and 8 AM to 5 PM on the weekend. Newly introduced are breakfast items and lunch-to-go, in addition to regularly set menu in the morning.
Kalas said, “Expect anything from gluten-free overnight oatmeal to eggs shakshuka and of course, avocado toast.”