To truly zero in on "what's fresh?" one must not only tell the story of the chef and restaurant, but the farmer. Take The Market Cafe and Wine Bar for example. with "local" as its main objective, the downtown eatery buys its poultry from Gerber, an Amish Country operation located only 58 miles from town. Established in 1952, Gerber Poultry now processes more than 650,000 chickens per week. That volume might sound shocking, but each bird is raised on Amish family farms. The diet consists of an all-natural vegetarian feed, and the birds are antibiotic- and hormone-free.
Sustainability is a way of life at this popular downtown restaurant, which is operated by Bon Appétit Management Company and located on the first floor of the Ohio Saving Center Building. Reclaimed and recycled woods, metals and other materials give this airy space a warm and inviting vibe. Living up to its "market" moniker, the café features various stations that offer everything from soup to dessert, much of which is sourced locally, and all of which is prepared in-house.
The kitchen is now in the hands of chef Ian Thompson, former chef du cuisine at Fire Food & Drink at Shaker Square. A Hawaii native, Thompson also worked with Katz (and Bon Appétit) to open Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
"I love to cook, and I enjoy utilizing local vendors," says Thompson. "When it comes to chicken, I only choose Gerber."
"We purchase 650 to 720 pounds of fresh chicken a week! We do everything from slow roasting, grilling, char-broiling, baking, frying and sauté everyday," adds general manager Sam Shepherd.
The sandwich station features a daily chicken special, perhaps a teriyaki chicken banquette with broccoli, carrots and pepper jack cheese. The grill station offers a chicken pita, rosemary chicken entree, grilled chicken Philly and a chicken parmesan hoagie. The pizza station offers buffalo chicken, BBQ chicken, teriyaki chicken and pesto chicken pies. Some 50 pounds of marinated, spiced and diced chicken breast can be found on the salad bar alone.
Market proves that a company rooted in local, sustainable and fresh can mean good things for both diner and bottom line.
"We love the challenge of operating a restaurant successfully, and passing the sustainability movement onto our customers," explains Shepherd.