Late afternoon is typically a busy time for restaurants that serve three meals a day, but owner Jonah Fertig took some time to talk about business so far. Local Sprouts Cafe opened almost two weeks ago. (See photo above of Jonah Fertig.)
“I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur,” said Fertig as we sat at one of the tables. “I am a community organizer, activist, and a cook and teacher. I can identify with an entrepreneur, but it’s not my label.” In fact, the Cafe had been nominated for an Entreverge Award, sponsored by the Portland Chamber of Commerce for emerging new entrepreneurs. The Cafe did not win.
The passion of this 31 year old is “to provide food to the community and bring people together. I like to find ways to live together, eat together, share with each other and build alternatives to unsustainable business – like BP and Monsanto.
The Cafe has about 20 or 30 different farms that supply food to it. One is Freedom Farm, Freedom, owned by Daniel Price. According to Price, its a first generation farm with about 10 – 12 planted acres. Price is a supplier to Local 188, Sonny’s and Rosemont Bakery & Market as well as numerous places Down East of Portland. The Farm grows organic, mixed vegetables.
Meanwhile, Carlton Parsons at the bar is talking about the high concentrated levels of fructose corn syrup in many more foods then most realize. It’s in ketchup, hot dogs and even fat free salad dressings. Fortunaely, MHN.com was enjoying a guilt-free dinner of pan seared haddock, spinach, etc. for only $10. There was no fructose corn syrup anywhere near and the portions were appropriate.There was no one to even tip! It was delicious and is highly recommended. There is usually a fish entree on the nightly menu.
Fertig was raised in Yarmouth and attended N.Y.U. where he focused on art and cultural studies. (He works part-time at First Parish Church, Portland as the office facilitator.) “Business has been consistent and steady,” he says looking pleased. With a constant eye out for how to serve the public better, he says he has payroll to do and is graciously gone.