Common Roots offers free food to celebrate 3rd anniversary

A common problem at Common Roots: deciding what to order.

A common problem at Common Roots: deciding what to order.

Today Common Roots celebrates three years in business with a week-long anniversary special (July 7-14): Order two items from the dinner menu and get a third item of equal or lesser value free.

The new menu looks interesting/ambitious with the likes of an appetizer of grilled guusto (the goat's milk version of the Finnish cheese juusto), roasted olives, and marinated vegetables and, from the entree section, a ribeye steak with roasted potatoes, smoked onion, and baby turnips.

Hot Dish touched base with cafe owner Danny Schwartzman as he reflected on three years in business:

More than 300,000 people have come through the doors of Common Roots, many drawn by the cafe's neighborhood vibe and commitment to sustainable eating. "We've been tracking our purchases since day one, and 86% of all purchases have been local, organic, or fair trade," Schwartzman says. The cafe also does catering--as with the cafe, food is also made from scratch with local and organic ingredients, and composting services are provided--which has grown to become 25% of its business.

Another noteworthy accomplishment is the cafe's creation of an adjacent garden, which provided 1,600 pounds of produce for harvest last year and to set an educational example of successful urban agriculture*. Schwartzman points out that while restaurants that buy mostly local are still in the minority, interest is booming, citing a National Restaurant Association report that the hottest trend for 2010 is restaurants with their own gardens.

"More and more people are talking about local food, and it's getting more and more mainstream," he says. We continue to have new suppliers approach us for most everything we buy, while simultaneously established growers are selling to larger and larger markets. Riverbend Farm is selling produce to school districts. Thousand Hills Cattle Co is available in Target stores. Surly Brewing keeps on dramatically increasing production and still can't keep up with demand for their beer. Across the local food world, we're seeing more people who want to buy high-quality local products."

* Also, Common Roots is hosting a hands-on gardening workshop on Monday, July 12, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the plot behind the cafe on 26th Street. RSVP to if you'd like to attend.