The town of Gilbert is a tight-knit community, with plenty of small businesses that make this a great place to live.
One of those is Uprooted Kitchen, a friendly vegetarian cafe within Barnone, a creative hub for skilled craftsman and creators to sell their goods and interact with the local community.
Uprooted Kitchen’s roots date back to 2012. Erin and Chad Romanoff began their original food truck as a bit of an experiment. “We ate a mostly organic vegetarian diet at home, and we had difficulty finding place to eat out that were conscious of their ingredients,” Erin said. “We thought that there most be others in our community seeking food options similar to what we were eating at home.”
A pastry chef by trade, Erin and Chad, who is “quite knowledgeable about nutrition and the connection between food and health” found success with their food truck. They primarily visited the Gilbert Farmers Market downtown, where they we were welcomed with open arms. “We decided to take a leap of faith and turn our passion for nourishing food into a small business,” she said. “We were meeting people week after week that were thanking us for what we were doing. We felt such a wonderful connection with the town of Gilbert and continued to grow our business.”
After four flourishing years of success, they outgrew their little truck. In need of a larger space so they could expand their menu and hours of operation, they settled in their current brick and mortar location. Now, they have created a larger menu that changes weekly, keeping regular customers and their taste buds excited for new dishes. “Although running a restaurant is not an easy job, we really appreciate the fact that we are not mobile anymore,” Erin said. “We love being in one spot and not having to travel with our kitchen.”
Anyone who tries their food can easily tell that they thoughtfully select every ingredient as they are creating their cuisine. It’s a big part of their effort to promote an organic, plant-based diet and choices that make for a happy, healthy community. “At Uprooted Kitchen, we strive to create a space free of judgment everyday, allowing for community interaction, productive conversations about food, a welcoming atmosphere, nourishing and satisfying food, and a positive and creative environment.”
Their busy schedule doesn’t stop with simply serving up their delicious menu. They also offer cooking classes and workshops on-site, hoping to remind their loyal customers that cooking at home is a great way to bond as a family. “We would love to have our customers eat at our restaurant every day, but ideally we want to give them the tools and information to make nourishing food for themselves and their families at home,” Erin said. “We would love to inspire our community to make a habit of making food as a family and talking and thinking about food choices.”
They serve the same quality food they give their own kids at Uprooted Kitchen. They emphasize a “plant-based diet,” a more specific term than vegan that refers to whole food that comes from the earth, made with the cleanest ingredients possible. It’s a welcome change from the abundance of processed foods infiltrating grocery store shelves, restaurants, and ultimately our homes. “Buying local is so fantastic. We are lucky enough to be located on a certified organic farm, the farm at Agritopia, and there is nothing better than the taste of fruits and vegetables that have just been harvested from the field,” Erin said. “It makes our job so much easier when we start with amazing produce, not to mention the importance of supporting local small farms. Being a small business ourselves, we love purchasing from local businesses.” Among their local connections are Proof Artisan Bakery, where they get their bread, Benny Blanco and their tortillas, and Wisdom Nectar’s delicious tea. “There is definitely a difference in quality when you purchase from someone who loves what they do.”
Their ideal location goes a long way in their success, as they are surrounded by highly creative people in a friendly environment, with organic row crops, citrus, dates and peaches at their back door at Agritopia. “Being a part of the Barnone community has been truly priceless. Starting a small family business can be stressful, and it was amazingly supportive to have ten other businesses that are a part of our community going through the same thing,” Erin said. “The beauty of our community is the ability of all of our small businesses to collaborate with each other on a daily basis. Our extended family includes a wood-fired restaurant, a brewery, a salon, a woodcrafter, a farmer, a letterpress, a florist, a winery, and two machine shops. We all support and promote each other as much as we can, and there is always something fun going on inside our unique ‘barn.’ We could not have asked for a better home and are honored to be part of this creative group.”
Another plus of their new brick-and-mortar lifestyle is their commute- Erin and Chad live across the street from their restaurant. “We made the choice to live in Agritopia to simplify our life and make family time a priority.” This gives them the chance to spend time with their thirteen-year-old twin boys in the morning, who often help out at the restaurant too, creating a family-friendly vibe.
They have many regular customers stopping by in the morning for a nourishing breakfast and organic coffee, and some even pick up their lunch to-go for later in the day. Here, it’s never too late for french toast-breakfast is served all day. Their days are busy but fun, as Erin and Chad always chat with their customers and connect with them, something they say is just as important as their quality food. “We try our best to take time to chat with each and every customer we serve,” Erin said. “With our regular customers we love to hear what is happening in their lives, and four our new customers, we love to share our story and who we are.”
Their small staff has become an extension of their family, and they find fun in each and every day. This attitude is shared with customers, who are invited to participate in an exciting calendar of events including Thursday night “grab and go” dinners, reservation-only special events, yoga Sundays and cooking classes for parents and kids.
For Erin, the best part about this enterprise is that she and her husband can share in the success and celebrate their hard work together. “Looking back over the past 5 years, we can say that we are so proud of what we have accomplished- at times it seems unreal and too good to be true,” she said. “It has absolutely been the most difficult and the most rewarding thing we have ever done.”
Realizing their lifelong goal of working together doing something that they love, the couple cherish their precious family time and even close up shop early so they can be home with their boys. “I cannot think of anything more valuable to be teaching our children- do what you love surrounded by those that you love.”