Tag Archives: organic

Everything Old is New Again – The Root Cellar Organic Café

The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive markets out there. Several elements are needed in order for a restaurant to be successful: an enticing menu, outstanding customer service and a welcoming dining atmosphere. Since its inception in July of 2012 as a 19 seat cafe, the Root Cellar Organic Café has certainly offered all of this and more, but recently they unveiled a stunning expansion of their space that has made the dining atmosphere that much more welcoming and in a word: incredible.

Recycled, upcycled and innovatively designed are apt descriptors of the elements you will see when you walk into the new space at 623 Dundas Street East. Everywhere you look you will notice something old that has become new again. From bike frames welded to a counter at the front window to bicycle rims acting as a hanging cup rack. From rebar that has been welded into gorgeous and unique light fixtures on the ceiling, to sheet metal that has been bent and fused into a stunning line of flowers, or a handrail that now holds menu boards. The décor is intriguing and beautiful to say the least.

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Many of the upcycled items were uncovered in the renovation process while others, such as the handrail that now holds the menus and an old yellow counter section, have been recycled from buildings at the Western Fairgrounds that were recently demolished. This space is a feast for your eyes and soul, and it’s easy to feel quite satisfied before you even set eyes on the menu which has an offering for every appetite and every diet. From vegan entrees to water buffalo burgers, local and organic are the two most important words to keep in mind as you peruse the delectable bill of fare.

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With a focus on “from-scratch” seasonal menus, in house artisan baked goods made from local and organic grains, supporting small local farmers is important to the Root Cellar. The concept for the restaurant grew out of a desire to create a relationship between local organic producers and food consumers. To this effect, they began to source local and organically produced items in an attempt to create as small a food chain as possible. All items on their menu are organic (with very few exceptions), and 80% of the food they use on their menu is local. To achieve this they frequent farmers who use season extension techniques such as hoop houses, allowing certain vegetables to be grown during the winter months.

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But the food, décor and incredibly welcoming staff aren’t the only enticements for customers at the Root Cellar. Their walls house a six week rotating art display featuring local London artists. The current display is a collage of local miscellany featuring 30 different artists. The Root Cellar doesn’t collect a commission on anything sold putting all the profits into the pockets of the artists. I was told a story about one of the artists whose actions reflect the values of the Root Cellar, and I would say of the Old East Village as well. Upon selling one of his pieces of art and knowing they weren’t taking a commission, the artist asked who he could make a donation to on behalf of the restaurant. They chose the Unity Project located just up the road from the Root Cellar.

Root Cellar 059Community focused. Local. Sustainable. Responsible. These are words I would easily use to describe the Root Cellar, and the neighbourhood in which it opens its doors to every day: The Old East Village. They are such a good fit for each other that at times I find it hard to believe the Root Cellar only opened its doors two years ago. It has become such a staple of the OEV that it feels like it has been part of the streetscape forever. And if the renovations and future plans for the restaurant are any indication, they don’t plan on leaving any time soon either. With an extended menu that now includes dinner and longer hours from Thursday to Saturday, a new chef, Dani Murphy, who is described as “amazing” by General Manager Ellie Cook, the Root Cellar has said “We are here to stay!”

Root Cellar 053And if that wasn’t enough, there are even more exciting developments in the works for the Root Cellar Organic Café. Soon their old, tiny kitchen will become London’s first co-operatively owned nanobrewery: a very small brewery operation that is defined by a brew system less than 4 US beer barrels. It will be the first worker owned brewery of its kind in Canada and will offer the beer on tap in the Root Cellar, and perhaps in a growler size that you will be able to take home later in the game.

Oh, and about that sign! Whenever I mention the amazing Root Cellar to friends and neighbours they comment on the sign that hangs above the old entry. “When are they going to get a new sign??” everyone questions, so I asked Ellie – who was the sign’s creator, in case you didn’t know.

“SOON!” she assures me, though she says it with slight hesitation. Asrootcellar the sign is being done by the same folks at Reclaimed Innovations who did the new space makeover, it might take them a little time to recover from the hard work they put into the Root Cellar space before the sign is completed. For now, look for the modest yellow hand painted sign that still adorns the front of the building. You can’t miss it and I promise you, the food will still taste just as good.

Drop in to see the folks at the Root Cellar today, and tell your friends about it tomorrow. This is truly a business to get behind in London, Ontario. With breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and a mandate for local, sustainable and responsible partnerships, you can’t go wrong with the Root Cellar Organic Café.

Bon appétit!

Business Spotlight: What’s good in the ‘hood? Purdy Natural!

A few months ago while walking the dog, I noticed new activity going on inside the Eat Green Organics storefront at 1010 Dundas Street. A counter was being built in front of the large picture window, and a new face was busily preparing a shelf behind it. My curiosity was piqued, as happens any time there is new activity in the Old East Village. This is an area that has consistently seen new and interesting businesses set up shop over the last few years, so of course I wondered what this one was going to be.

A few days later I saw an announcement on Facebook that indeed a new business had moved in and would be sharing the space with the Organic food retailers:

“Purdy Natural: Modern Skin Care Made with Love!”

I watched over the next few days as the final touches were done, product was moved in and the proprietor, Rokhsana Purdy, took her place at the counter proudly displaying her products around her. I went in to say hello and introduce myself, check out the wares and have a short conversation with Rokhsana about herself, the new store and the incredible all natural products she was offering. I was also lucky enough to bring home a package of goodies to try out that day as well.

Lip balm, body soaps, a deliciously creamy skin moisturizer and a product called Shiver Me Timbers were mine for the testing which they passed with flying colours. I wasn’t the only one involved in the testing process, as my family quickly got in on the action.

My 8 year old son loved the goats milk soap the best (Capra) which he said left his easily dried out skin feeling much softer than the regular body soap we had been using.  My 11 year old daughter quickly claimed the lip balm as her own, loving its mild flavour and how it soothed her winter dried lips.

As for my husband and I, we found quick appreciation for the tin of Shiver Me Timbers. Amazing, all natural soothing for sore muscles that we have found is also great for headache relief, nasal and chest congestion, and tired feet after a long day of standing. It has also provided relief to the kids whose legs ache now and then from growing pains.

A new believer and fan of Purdy Natural products, I asked Rokhsana if we could do a Q & A for Hub blog readers, and this is what she had to say.

1) When and how did Purdy Natural start?

Purdy Natural began as a different company called Karmic Soul Day Spa Inc initially as I was providing all natural spa services and making skin care products to use on myself and clients. We had a booth at the Western Fair Farmers Market where we sold some of our skin care products. Purdy Natural was excitedly launched in Nov 2013, where we came up with a full product line mainly because of the encouragement of family and friends. We have also had amazing support from local businesses that pushed us in this direction, such as the incredible staff at The Taste Of Ink, Angela Rivard at FLXyoga, Jodi Tiller from Rebirth Wellness and Tiffany Roschkow from ECO Living London among many others. We are forever grateful to them.

2) How did you learn to make these incredible products?

My mother in law, Paulina Purdy and I started taking product making courses about 6 years ago through various different companies. We experimented with all kinds of recipes and had a lot of fun doing that. There are many books and online resources that helped us create. It was something we enjoyed doing together and loved the reactions we received from family and friends when we gave our creations as gifts. Our houses smell wonderful all the time…how can you beat that!

3) Are the recipes for your products just a result of much trial and error and tinkering?

Yes tinker, tinker and more tinker. Purdy Natural isn’t tested in on any animals other than our husbands, friends and family members (including children-it’s that safe!). We have received a lot of feedback from them and we listen to what people want in hopes to make them happy. That being said, over 6 years research about the healing properties of different oils, plants and butters have gone into our products and continues to do so as we are always creating new and fun things!

4) Where do you see Purdy Natural in 10 years?

London has really grown a lot in the past 6 years and Londoners are seeking out healthier options in both food and skin care. Many people are making strong conscience decisions on where their money is going, not only for health reasons, but for community reasons as well. They are doing their own research and demanding change and we are passionate to help them make that change. In 10 years we would LOVE to see this movement grow and we would LOVE to be able to continue what we are doing by helping others and by building a strong community.

5) What is the number one thing you would like readers to know about your product?

We put LOVE first into all of our products because we feel so passionate about that this is more than just a product, it’s about health, family, activism, community, faith and well being for everyone and we truly, truly believe in this. LOVE has created Purdy Natural and we share it through our products.

 6) What made you decide to set up shop in the Old East Village?

Community! OEV has a cool vibe of change, and it fits perfectly with our beliefs. We are so happy to form a relationship with Phil Williamson of Eat Green Organics, by inviting us in he has allowed us to start and grow our business. We feel at home and it’s an amazing place to be surrounded by people who follow the same way of life.

Do you love it or what?! What a great Q&A. Thanks for that, Rokhsana! My family and I sure love the products, and her growing customer base does as well. Pop in to see Rokhsana at 1010 Dundas Street and try her products for yourself. And while you are there, check out the amazing array of products offered by Eat Green Organics (who also offer home delivery!).

Like the adage says: Think global, act local. There are so many ways you can’t go wrong with these natural products – especially when the first ingredient is LOVE.