BY CHRIS HUSSEY
The Busy Locavore, on first glance, does not seem like anything other than another place to eat on Gateway Park Drive. But like its owner, it is anything but typical.
Allison Mitchell is the owner and chef at the quick-service restaurant, which is described on its website as high-quality food that is easy to take out.
“The Busy Locavore serves delicious takeout, prepared meals and snacks made from scratch with an emphasis on local, artisanal and sustainably-sourced products,” said the description on their homepage.
After opening its doors on Oct. 3 and after about a month of getting the word out, the restaurant held an official grand opening event on Oct. 28. Mitchell and her staff offered free samples to visitors. Fitting with the restaurant’s local appeal, they primarily promoted the event by putting up posters in the nearby community, although it was also promoted on community websites like Snapd Kitchener Waterloo.
Not long after 4 p.m., the small space inside the restaurant was packed with people, many who were glad they came to the event.
“I love all the spices, they are subtle and you can really taste the ingredients in there,” said Marios Matsias, a visitor. “Just beautiful.”
His wife, Janice Matsias, added the restaurant provides a lot of options for people who may have dietary restrictions.
I’m gluten-free and dairy-free, so it provides a good venue to find foods that satisfy those dietary needs,” said Janice. “It’s a good combination of choices, whether you want to eat it right away or take something home to heat up later.”
While she has several staff to assist her, Mitchell makes the vast majority of the food herself, and so perhaps it is no surprise there are a lot of options available for customers. She is a classically trained French chef with her Red Seal endorsement, a national standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada, but she also has experience making dishes with more exotic influences, like Middle-Eastern foods.
Mitchell said she thinks this is one reason why her restaurant will draw people in.
“I feel a place like this doesn’t really exist … it’s hard to find this quality of food that’s easy to take out.”
Mitchell runs the restaurant alongside her boyfriend, Peter Lenardon, who primarily runs the marketing side of things. However, during the grand opening event, he also was on the front counter interacting with customers.
The word locavore refers to someone who chooses to eat foods that have been grown locally. Mitchell named The Busy Locavore after that concept, and that’s the market she said she is trying to appeal to: people who want to eat food grown sustainably and locally, but have no time to make it themselves.
One potential obstacle with this concept is local food tends to cost more. Mitchell said this is in part because there is more work done on the farmer’s end, such as letting animals run free and using mixed crops. Although it costs more, she said it’s worth it.
“I feel like my prices are quite reasonable for the quality of the food,” she said.
Jon Evans has been a fairly regular visitor to The Busy Locavore since it opened in early October, and agreed the price is worth the quality of the food.
“It seems to make a difference, that’s all I can tell you,” he said. “This isn’t fast food; this is good food, fast.”
For Mitchell, buying locally is worth the extra cost, and she believes people are starting to realize that.
“It’s supporting your local economy,” she said. “It just benefits everybody.”