Since its establishment last August, the Little Clay House, a restaurant/tea room just off Marshfield’s square, has drawn customers in with its adorable atmosphere, delicious food and friendly staff.

Located on 238 N. Clay St, the restaurant offers sandwiches, soups, salads and homemade desserts, along with weekly specials, such as pizza, tacos, kish and roast beef with au jus. Sandwiches include The Apple, The Sandy, The Grecian Cheese and California Baby, which are served with chips and a pickle or a choice of 1/2 sandwich and 1/2 garden salad. The Little Clay House is owned and operated by Carly Trent, who came to Marshfield three years ago. It was voted Best New Business for The Marshfield Mail’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.

“I was so excited and thankful when I found out I received this award,” said Trent. “It is surreal some days to know that this is where I am at and this is what I am doing. I am assured every day by the people that come in here this is where I am supposed to be. The people that come in here make it all worth it.”

Trent has been involved in the food industry since she was 15 years old. In 2013, she worked at The Cup, now known as The Urban Cup, in Springfield, where she learned how to make cupcakes. She also worked for a cake bakery and a catering company. Trent found herself in Marshfield after her sister recommended Tiffany Replogle hire her when Tiff’s Natural Market opened its doors in September 2014. There, she worked as a chef in the cafe, which increased her passion for cooking.

“I am kind of high-strung and hyperactive,” said Trent. “I feel like cooking is my outlet. With cooking, there are some days I hate it and some days I love it, but it is something I have in me that I will have forever. I can look at ingredients and something in my brain sparks. Cooking is like an art form to me. I love to craft and it is almost a form of crafting. It is something that constantly keeps me moving.”

As a first-time business owner, Trent has learned some valuable aspects about running a business, such as having patience, developing balance and asking questions. The experience has also taught her key elements about what makes a good restaurant, which she said involves good food, great service, consistency, a clean facility and being open to feedback. In addition to “Best New Business,” The Little Clay House was runner-up for Best Décor. The inside of the restaurant is decorated with antiques, pictures and various items Trent collected over the years that have sentimental value to her. Some of them bring back memories of her childhood, such as a tea cart her grandmother gave her, along with framed photos of her family and notes she kept over the years.

“If you came over to my old house, you would see the same style of décor,” said Trent. “A lot of these things were given to me or I found it. If I stared at an item long enough, then I would get an idea to make it into something else.”

She added that it took about five months to finish setting up and decorating the building, but her loved ones played a huge role in getting the restaurant on its feet. One of them is her friend, Whitney Stevens, who helps her prepare the food and desserts. When she isn’t tending to hungry customers, Trent enjoys chilling out on the river, walking her two dogs and shopping, more specifically for decor items for her business.

The Little Clay House is open from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed on Saturday and Sunday.

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