The Work We Do: Miriam Foster, Orient Country Store

My name is Miriam Foster. I’m the proprietor of the Orient Country Store here on Village Lane in Orient.

We open at 7:30 a.m. I’m here at about 7 o’clock –— earlier if there’s something that needs to be done before the customers come in, which sometimes is before the doors open. We put out the newspapers. We get the coffee going. We turn on the griddle. We turn on the oven, pop some baked goods in, get the bagels sorted. And then we wait. The customers trickle in or flow in. They have their coffee, their breakfast sandwiches.

Everything we do here is made from scratch. A lot of our lunch sandwiches, the roast beef for instance, my husband [Grayson] makes. The big ticket item — and we’ve actually had some very exciting celebrity guests come and request it — is Grayson’s Reuben. It requires a nap afterwards, but it is so worth it.

And, of course, my baked goods are made from scratch too, so I’m busy filling in the gaps of business with baking.

I’ve done a lot of commissions. For the past seven years, I’ve served the same birthday cake to a couple of people, which is really special. A friend had her engagement ring hidden on top of one of the blueberry pies this summer, so that was a nice, special story to be involved with.

My husband and I met in college and graduated during the recession. There wasn’t much for a couple of art students to do, so we found food. I started baking the week after I graduated and I never looked back.

Miriam Foster. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

It’s grueling. It’s tough. It’s difficult. It’s painful at times, but it’s addicting. It’s really the best because it feeds my own sweet tooth along with the community’s.

My favorite part about running the store is our local community. We have a lot of regulars that come in every day — sometimes twice or three times or four times a day — but they’ve become good friends.

We had never been to Orient before moving here. It’s welcoming and generous and kind and open, certainly, but it’s also remote and exclusive and distant and a lot of people have been here a long time. For a newcomer to be established, it was hard work.

Orient is a special place and I’m glad to be a part of it.

‘The Work We Do’ is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. This weekly feature is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes. See the complete list of previous profiles here.