Trevor Brown brings a great deal of experience working with food to the table.
The 30-year-old restaurateur grew up on a dairy farm in Lemon Twp., earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management with a specialization in restaurants from Penn State, worked at local eateries for years and opened his own produce and pig co-op, Purple Pepper Farms in Lake Winola, a few years ago.
Now, he shares his expertise in culinary creativity at his North Keyser Avenue sandwich shop, Purple Pepper Deli. Opened in March 2016, the Scranton deli provides Brown with a steady income to supplement his seasonal farming, and makes good use of his own fresh produce as well as some of the food that otherwise would go to waste.
“A lot of the greens, like Swiss chard, gets wilty at the market, but I can bring it here for soups,” Brown said. “Or a tomato might have a small cut in it, but it’s perfectly fine to use for salsa.”
Among his farm-fresh ingredients found on the summer menu are onions, potatoes, basil, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, kale and cauliflower. Brown locally sources his other basics whenever possible, too, like bread from Roscioli’s Bakery and taco shells from Tortilleria El Buen Amigo, both in Scranton.
“They make good products, and I’m friends with them,” he explained.
Purple Pepper Deli’s menu is organized on one side by proteins (pork, chicken, turkey, beef) and veggie options, but also includes signature staples, like the Mojo Pork (citrus-infused pulled pork, smoked ham, baby Swiss, homemade pickles and mustard aioli), the Balsamic Beef (London broil, soppressata, aged provolone, tomatoes, pickled red onion, arugula, balsamic and choice of hot or sweet peppers), the Italian (which comes topped with soppressata) and the Smoked Gouda Chipotle (roasted turkey, smoked Gouda, chipotle aioli, crumbled bacon, arugula, tomatoes, fire-roasted peppers and pickled red onions).
Other features pop, in Brown’s opinion, though he struggles to pick favorites.
“I wrote the menu, and I like everything on there,” he said. “But I’m a sucker for the Fat Bull (London broil, smoked Gouda, poblano barbecue, mayo, seasonal greens, tomatoes and red onion), because I love smokey flavor.
“The most classic one we’ve made our own is the Turkey Reuben, because it comes with a garlic (sauer)kraut we make ourselves,” Brown added.
Homemade soups are a huge hit, too, he noted. In the summer, Purple Pepper Deli sells about 10 gallons a week, while that output doubles in the winter. Desserts also are available, and the deli offers delivery in the Scranton area for free with a $20 minimum order. Catering and party trays are offered, and Brown expects to reintroduce a produce stand in the parking lot by the fall.
On the shelves inside the small space, which has seating for just under 20, Purple Pepper jams and pickled veggies as well as locally harvested honeys can be picked up. Often, items are found based on the way the growing season progresses.
“Certain things stay the same for the customer’s sake, but every time they walk in, they’re going to find something different,” Brown said. “Although the menu is really big, we cross-utilize a lot, and I think that’s the secret to a successful restaurant.”
Purple Pepper Deli
Address: 825 N. Keyser Ave., Scranton
Established: March 2016
Owner: Trevor Brown
Cuisine: Soups, salads and sandwiches
Hours: Mondays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 3 p.m.
Online: Visit the Purple Pepper Deli page on
Facebook or purplepepperfarms.com
— patrice wilding