Area’s First Oatmeal Cafe Readies to Open in Davis Square

oat shopAlan Donovan mans the counter at an Oat Shop popup this summer. Photo by Yoonjoo Kim.

When Eater Boston initially reported that an artisanal oatmeal restaurant called Oat Shop would open this fall in Davis Square, not everyone was particularly sold on the idea. “In what sounds a bit like a hipster joke, a restaurant that specializes in oatmeal is scheduled to open this fall in an undisclosed Davis Sq. location,” teased one Davis Square Livejournal user in sharing the news.

“My horse will LOVE this!” another piled on.

Asked if he’s heard some of the, er, skepticism surrounding his dining concept, Oat Shop owner Alan Donovan laughs.

“I definitely have,” he says. “It’s interesting. I think some people think of it as such an out there, crazy concept, when in reality—it’s oatmeal! It’s such a classic comfort food that our grandparents ate. It’s something we’re all familiar with.”

Donovan’s background is in finance, not food, but as he went into the office each day, he noticed more and more that he was surrounded by people who wanted to eat healthy but just didn’t have the time.

oat shop

Alan Donovan photographed by Yoonjoo Kim.

“There’s just not much out there—there’s donuts, pastries—but not really anything that’s healthy, that people can feel really good about eating every day,” he explains. After watching Chipotle’s success with burritos and seeing what Sweetgreen did for salads, Donovan reasoned that the breakfast market was ripe for its own entrants into the fast casual game. And he’s always loved oatmeal, which he says is both under-appreciated and “kind of pigeonholed,” so he figured—why not open an oatmeal joint?

“You can do infinite amounts of customization!” he notes. “It’s basically the same as rice.”

After a successful summer popup at The Middle Gray in Brookline, where he tested out different flavor combos and offered customizable oatmeal bowls, Donovan announced yesterday that Oat Shop would open up at 22 College Ave. in Davis Square. Soon, you’ll be able to get savory options (a Sriracha and fried egg bowl with soy sauce) and sweeter offerings (a summer-long crowd favorite topped with banana, apricot and almond butter)—and some that bridge the savory-sweet divide (butternut squash and caramelized onions, anyone?).

And if you’re still skeptical, Donovan adds that Oat Shop will also be a full-service coffee shop, serving Counter Culture coffee and teas from MEM Tea, which just opened up its own Davis Square storefront at 49 Elm St. last month.

Oat Shop was initially slated to open in the summer, but after a few setbacks, Donovan tells us he’s shooting for a mid- or late-November opening.

Which, truth be told, might be even better; we’re entering peak oatmeal season, after all.

Updated 1/12/2017: After two attempted openings this month—one halted by a frozen pipe and another held up by a permitting issue—Donovan says the cafe will open again on Friday, January 13. “I’m hoping that the third attempt is the charm!” he says.