ORLANDO, Fla. – It was never in her plan: to turn a culinary catering space into a fully-fledged restaurant. Nor did she move to a new, larger location down the street after so many visitors flooded the brunch spot that she ran out of space.
What you need to know
- Se7en Bites is owned by Trina Gregory-Propst and wife, Va
- Gregory-Propst found her love of baking at the culinary school
- She says their company is the epitome of authentic living
- The couple has made a point of donating and supporting LGBTQ goals
But Trina Gregory-Propst says she is thankful that things worked out the way they did.
Se7en Bitesafter all, is just as important to her as supporting the LGBTQ community.
“Besides being married to my wife and giving birth to my son, this also feels like that child,” says Gregory-Propst. “It’s amazing to see it grow and we want to do everything we can to give back. We want to be here for everyone in the community, regardless of who you are, what you believe, how you identify.”
101 baking in a dream
For the first 21 years of her life, Gregory-Propst worked in the spa industry. After having her son in the mid-2000s, she wanted a change and a better balance in life.
So, five years later, Gregory-Propst went to culinary school to become a personal chef, studied with Valencia College’s Rosen program, and earned three degrees.
‘Food is so directly connected to so many things we do. We celebrate with it, we mourn it, “she said.” To me, cooking is … It doesn’t feel like work. “
One of her last lessons was the basics of baking, and something started there. She realized how much she loved baking and the science behind it.
Soon Gregory-Propst made artful creations for local restaurants and looked at an area of 987 square meters Orlando’s Milk District from which she could work, ‘perfect to start with’.
She remembers that her then-girlfriend, now wife, Virginia Propst (passing through Va) nudged her: “If you’re already there, let me build you a counter. Make some extra cookies, put them on the counter. “”
Counter space changed in 2013 to a bona fide bakery called Se7en Bites. Two years later, the restaurant, specializing in Southern dishes with a twist, was bursting at the seams.
They found a space, moved there in October 2016, and ended up in an episode of the Food Network series from “Diners, Drive-Ins and divessoon after.
While Trina’s face can be plastered to the side of the neon-colored building on Primrose Drive in Orlando, Se7en Bites pays tribute to her grandmother, a ‘matriarch of cookery’.
It is also the result of an important partnership that manifests in the kitchen as a balance of separate roles – yin and yang: Trina focuses on the sweet, such as cherry pies and biscuits, and her wife, Va, works on savory dishes, chicken frying and delicious grits.
Most of all, Gregory-Propst says their company is the epitome of authentic living.
“We have not hidden from anyone that it is my wife and I who own this company,” said Gregory-Propst. “It’s very important for us to support the LGBTQ community, because that’s who supports us. And we’re part of that community. It just feels natural to give something back.”
In recent years, Se7en Bites has done just that, giving back to the LGBTQ community that Trina and Va are part of.
The restaurant has donated to help open the center in Kissimmee, cared for and nurtured youth through Zebra Coalition and enthusiastically participated in the city’s Safe Place initiative. It was an easy decision to stick a rainbow sticker on their front door and donate the space as a safe haven for those in need, says Gregory-Propst.
“I want everyone who is here to know we see them, we hear them, we appreciate that they are here,” she said.
Going through the pandemic was not as easy as Se7en Bites. After switching to takeaway and quickly realizing that breakfast was not the best meal, Trina and Va decided to close the restaurant on March 15.
In the meantime, they moved and repainted tables; more outdoor seating, picnic tables spilling in the large parking lot behind the colorful shop; and added mobile handwashing stations for customers.
Federal Paycheck Protection Program funding that business owners had requested came, but late – a week before the restaurant reopened in the first week of May.
And while things have slowly returned, this is an incentive Se7en Bites only from Thursday to Sunday did 27 of the 32 employees return to work.
As they roll out dough, scoop thick chicken into ramekins, and gently shrink the edges, they get ready to ship items across the country for the first time.
It is exciting, not charted.
After everything they’ve been through, Gregory-Propst says their goal remains unchanged: to be open to everyone and make the LGBTQ community that has supported them feel the love.
“We need to find creative ways to give back to help these nonprofits so they can continue to help people in the community,” she says. “That’s why we do what we do. It’s so overwhelming to feel a connection with people coming in and feeling part of their life. ‘