Matt Baron's face has become a familiar one at J.P. Gifford Market & Catering Company on Main Street in Kent.

J.P. Gifford opened in mid-March and, since that time, the South Kent School instructor has become a regular.

"The food is fantastic," said Mr. Baron last Friday.

"This is the fourth time I've eaten here this week and I'll probably come back tomorrow," he remarked. "The town needed a place like this. Last week, I tried five different lunches over five days."

J.P. Gifford is located in the building next to House of Books that for many years had housed a market.

The new owners, Mike Moriarty and James Neunzig, have signed a 15-year lease and plan to have a permanent presence on the street. The front of the building will be painted and upgraded in July.

"I really enjoyed Kent when I had my restaurant, Moosilauke, here a few years ago," said Mr. Neunzig. "It's good to be back in town."

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Mr. Neunzig also holds a degree in Hotel Restaurant Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

He has worked locally at the Mayflower Inn in Washington, the West Street Grille in Litchfield and The Bistro in New Milford, which he managed from 2002 to 2005.

"It's all about fresh, and it's all about making food from scratch," Mr. Neunzig said. "I'd rather run out of something than take any shortcuts or cook from cans."

Mr. Moriarty, who has banquet experience from working at the Candlewood Inn in Brookfield, shares his partner's enthusiasm for providing top quality in both food and service.

"We're basically a micro-market, bakery and delicatessen," Mr. Moriarty said. "We choose to carry high-quality items. All baked goods are baked the evening before or the day of sale.

"We buy in small quantities, with deliveries coming from the city six days a week," he noted. "Our chicken and meat is the same grade served in New York City restaurants."

The smell of freshly ground coffee and chocolate croissants permeates the air at J.P. Gifford. Bouquets of fresh flowers adorn the wooden runner tables and replicas of fruit-crate labels from the 1930s and 1940s hang on one wall in frames.

Whether looking for a lunch of grilled salmon with white miso sauce or stopping in for a pound of Mountain Product Smokehouse smoked bacon to take home to cook, patrons will find either Mr. Neunzig or Mr. Moriarty on site seven days a week.

"It's always nice to go into a place and know you can ask for the owner -- that the owner will be on the premises," Mr. Neunzig said.

J.P. Gifford Market & Catering Company, located at 12 North Main St. in Kent, is open Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this time, the storefront is being established. In the future, catering services will be added.