Megan Kleven said she and her family shared some fond moments anytime her grandmother would invite them into her College Point home for some of her soup.
Not only did it allow her and her 14 cousins, aunts and uncles to bond, but it also gave them a chance to enjoy her great cooking.
“I think soup is a comfort food and my grandma always knew how to cook a good bowl,” the 26-year-old said.
Kleven has brought her family’s recipes and personal touch to her new restaurant Mama Soup, at 122-18 18th Ave. Since it opened last year, the take-out and sit-in eatery has quickly become a hot spot for people all over the neighborhood.
Kleven, who has lived in College Point all her life, said the secret to her success is maintaining the comfort level in all of her recipes and the decor of the restaurant.
Mama Soup offers many varieties, including pea, chicken noodle and beef barley, and seasonal specials. Recently, the restaurant started to offer pumpkin pie soup, which was a fun variation of the classic fall dessert.
“We made our regular pumpkin soup, but added sweet croutons in to make it taste like a crust,” Kleven said.
The owner added tables for anyone who wanted to have a quick sip of her soup and also has a speedy but friendly take-out service.
The location used to be an old metal factory and the restaurant’s owner said she wanted to keep the old establishment’s history alive. She renovated the interior from the top down and kept a lot of the old pillars and walls intact.
Kleven, however, did add a personal touch to the front door that keeps her family’s memory alive.
“The bell that rings anytime anyone opens the door was on the backyard of my grandmother’s house,” she said.
The restaurant currently provides free delivery to neighborhoods close to the store, including Flushing, Bayside and Whitestone, but Kleven said she would like to expand to more places. And thanks to a celebrity endorsement, she might have to expand out of the borough.
Kleven said Matt Damon is a frequent customer after his driver, who lives in College Point, introduced him to her soups. Although she has never met the “Bourne Supremacy” star, she said he constantly sends the store messages about how great the soup is and always asks for the newest flavors to be delivered to his Manhattan home.
Kleven said the success of Mama Soup rests on the shoulders of her entire staff, which includes her sister Keri, who works the counter and handles the store’s marketing, and mother Sheryl, who works in the kitchen.
“It’s my business, but if I didn’t have the help of family and friends and support of the community, I wouldn’t have anything,” she said.
Log on to mama-soup.com for more information about the restaurant.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c