First Look: At Poppyseed Rye, Pick Up Lunch—and Fresh Flowers

Pairing pastrami with peonies, this Insta-worthy Ballston café offers craft sandwiches, avocado toast and a mini gift and flower mart.
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Poppyseed Rye opens Nov. 19 and serves a side of sunflowers with its sandwiches. (Photo by Eliza Tebo Berkon)

No, it’s not a bagelry. Ballston’s newest café, Poppyseed Rye, is one-part deli, one-part florist.

Housed in the former home of Buzz Bakeshop, Poppyseed Rye, which opens to the public Friday, Nov. 19, carries a hearty menu of sandwiches, toasts, salads, baked goods, beer and wine. Right alongside its refrigerators of chilled beverages and plastic tubs of side dishes is a mini gift shop and flower stand, ideal for that last-minute housewarming present or a little personal home decor.

About a year ago, local entrepreneur Scott Parker was looking for his next concept and discussing potential options with his business partners. “We actually saw a bunch of places in New York that were coffee and flowers,” Parker says. They settled on BLTs-meet-botany—a natural merger of strengths for Poppyseed Rye’s cofounders: Parker, chef Alex Buc (Cracked Eggery, Jetties) and florist Akeda Mardan (Farida Floral).

“Alex can really focus on the food. Akeda can really focus on the flowers. And then me and my team can focus on the operations of the restaurant,” says Parker, 39, who has lived in Arlington since 2006 and has an ownership stake in a bevy of brands that include Bronson Bier Hall, boxing fitness studio Bash, Bearded Goat Barber and the forthcoming Nighthawk Pizza.

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The restaurant serves five types of avocado and non-avo toasts, including a lump-crab take with CornNuts. (Photo courtesy of Poppyseed Rye)

The menu includes more than a dozen sandwiches, from traditional cold-cut hoagies to inventive veggie options; the marinated tofu sandwich is served on a banh mi baguette with pickled daikon and carrots, Gochujang mayo, sesame sticks, cilantro and chiles ($12). Five hot sandwiches round out the list, including a meatball sub with goat cheese and pesto ($14). And, capitalizing on the avocado-toast trend that just won’t quit, Poppyseed offers five toasts, including a lump-crab avocado toast with pickled bell pepper, corn, micro basil and ground CornNuts for a little crunch ($16), and a non-avo, vegan variety with beets and sweet potato. Delivery service will be offered in the coming weeks via third-party apps.

If you’re looking for lighter fare or a snack to accompany a glass of wine or beer, the shop also carries salads; pre-packaged, gluten-free veggie sides; and charcuterie. Mint, parsley and yogurt dressing perk up the chickpea salad ($13), and a small charcuterie board ($28) partners meats with cornichon, olives and pepper jam. While the eatery doesn’t serve breakfast, it does offer baked goods prepared daily by local kitchens.

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The fennel and watermelon radish side is mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper ($6). (Photo courtesy of Poppyseed Rye)

Grab table seating or snag a stool at the bar while you dine. There is no formal bar service or craft cocktails, but you can purchase any of a wide variety of bottled and canned alcoholic beverages to sip on-site. Cans include a Two Chicks tequila lemon and lime cocktail, Crafters Union rosé and beers from local breweries Aslin Beer Co. and Atlas Brew Works. If a fresh pour is more your speed, there’s a rotating menu of 10 wines by the glass (from $7-$10).

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Akeda Mardan, of Farida Floral, oversees bouquet and gift operations at the shop. (Photo courtesy of Poppyseed Rye)

Before you leave the premises, stop by the mini gift market and flower stand, where you can grab custom arrangements for $20 to roughly $150. Shelves are stocked with small home and personal care items, including soaps from Oak Lane Soapworks, as well as Compartés chocolate bars and California Gummy Bears. Buy a la carte, or have the shop box up a selection of goodies ($45-$75).

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The shop’s mini gift mart includes local products. (Photo by Eliza Tebo Berkon)

Ballston is already packed with lunchtime franchises and locally owned spots, but Parker is banking on this concept as one that will attract attention—and possibly be the first in a future chainlet.

“We’re definitely looking to hopefully make this something that’s successful enough that we can expand,” Parker says.

Poppyseed Rye is located at 818 N. Quincy St., Suite 102, Arlington. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

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Categories: Food & Drink