Author: Linda Hopkins | Photographer: John Brackett
Since 2005, Sandstone Catering has been making a significant mark in the special occasion arena. With a solid reputation for their culinary expertise, exquisite food presentation, complete event planning services, and meticulous attention to detail, it’s no wonder the catering business is booming. But leave it to the talented husband and wife team behind the successful company to come up with another exciting way to serve their beloved community. No need to wait for a grand ball, wedding reception or family reunion. Now you can enjoy Chef Aram Haroutunian’s creative cuisine every day when you visit Sandstone’s new gourmet market.
“We are very excited about Mainly Sandstone,” said Robin, Aram’s wife and business partner. Open since May 19, 2008, the gourmet grab-and-go market offers a fresh alternative to fast food. “You won’t need a menu. You’re going to walk in and see a wall of food,” she said.
Stop in on your way to work and enjoy a European-style breakfast. Choose from a selection of scones, muffins, croissants, breakfast tartlets, and quiches and enjoy a really good cup of coffee—dine in or take out. For lunch, picture fresh salads, sandwiches, platters, breads and baked goods, all ready to grab and go or enjoy on site. Those who have time to linger can choose to dine indoors or out in the adjacent Tuscan-style garden. Customers on the go can be on their way in a jiffy with a tasty meal that is much healthier than anything available at a drive-through.
Whether you are running errands on your lunch hour or heading to the beach with a lover or a gaggle of starving children, Mainly Sandstone has something to meet every need. And when the day is done, you can even call ahead and pick up dinner to go. Choose from a variety of evening selections, ready to heat and eat. “It’s all designed to be fast, fresh and affordable,” said Robin.
Mainly Sandstone is located at 35 North Main Street, Suite 100, in Hilton Head Island’s first LEED Certified “green” building. In addition to the market, the building houses the complete operations of J Banks Design and includes a private dining room/board room. Sandstone is the exclusive caterer for the exquisitely appointed, fully equipped Sienna Room, which can be reserved along with the Tuscan garden for corporate meetings and conferencing as well social gatherings and special events.
With a brand new state-of-the-art kitchen on the premises, according to Aram, everything has been designed for the highest efficiencies, minimizing waste and energy usage and encouraging recycling. “We’re trying to combine our business experience with our own sense of responsibility to the environment,” he said. “At this point in our career, we want to make money and be successful, but we also want to give something back.”
Offering personal chef services in addition to full service catering and the new grab-and-go market, Sandstone is also giving back to the community through its Healthy Life Cuisine program, designed for people who have specific dietary needs, older folks who have difficulty getting around, and busy people who simply don’t have time to cook.
Meals are created on a weekly basis from the finest ingredients available and can be customized to meet individual preferences or dietary restrictions. Drawing from 20-30 ethnicities, the menu changes every week. “It’s an amazing blend of culinary choices,” said Aram. Menus are e-mailed or faxed on Monday to be returned by Thursday. All food is delivered fresh to your door on Mondays and Tuesdays. Choose a three-, five- or seven-day program, lunch only or lunch and dinner—a healthier, less costly alternative to dining out. Sign up online or call for more information.*
“This is a philanthropic way for us to take some of the knowledge and experience we have and provide a service for people. We’re trying to be a company that doesn’t always take,” said Aram.
Mainly Sandstone, 35 North Main Street, is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call 843-681-5721 or visit online at www.mainlysandstone.com. For full service catering, event planning or to sign up for the *Healthy Life meal program, call Sandstone Catering at 843-681-5732 or visit online at www.sandstonecatering.com.
Meet the Chef
Growing up in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Aram Haroutunian’s culinary interest was first sparked by his little Italian grandmother who happened to be a fabulous cook. “Coming from an Italian, Armenian background, cooking and eating was a big part of our culture,” he said. His passion further fueled by the surrounding tourism industry, by age 11, he became enamored with the whole concept of pleasing people with food.
Although he attended the University of Boston, studying pre-law, Aram knew he was destined to be a chef. “I wanted to get a good liberal arts background. But at age 18, I already had years of restaurant experience—managing, cooking… My training was all apprenticeships,” said Aram, who has worked under some of the best French, German and U.S. chefs, cooking in Europe, the Caribbean and up and down the East Coast.
“I’m a firm believer if you are going to be a cobbler or a chair maker, you need to go out and make a thousand pair of shoes or a thousand chairs until you get it right. For me, it’s about immersing myself in the culinary culture,” he continued. “It’s about learning from as many different types of chefs as there are out there. At this point in my career, there’s not much that I can’t do.”
Aram opened his first restaurant in 1995 in Keene, New Hampshire. An instant hit, with his wife Robin’s help, he parlayed the 45-seat award-winning restaurant into a multi-million dollar culinary corporation which included a 200 seat restaurant, gourmet market with full bakery and busy catering division. The couple eventually sold the business to hit the high seas, spending five years on luxurious yachts, cooking for and entertaining some of world’s wealthiest and most influential people.
The desire to start a family brought the Haroutunians back home. Robin, who grew up on Hilton Head Island, is happy to be back, and Aram says settling here is the best decision they ever made. No stranger to the Lowcountry, prior to opening Sandstone Catering, Aram served as executive chef at Red Fish and had previously cooked at Café Europa and Rick’s Place.
Mainly Sandstone is the Haroutunian’s sixth business together. While completely dedicated to providing a superior product and service that exceeds their customers’ expectations, they are just as intensely focused on their family. Married 15 years, they have two children, four-and-a half-year-old Wyatt and one-year-old Sophia. “Our goal is to raise two happy, healthy, God-loving kids,” said Robin.
“We want to be very mindful of where we are,” added Aram, who is growing his business with care and consideration for quality of life—his own and that of his staff. “I try to let other people shine, nurture their expertise and experience and not squash their passion. I hire the best people to be the best people. I don’t have to micromanage.”