January 2008 Issue
Food for Thought
For a small worker-owned restaurant in Athens, community involvement takes priority alongside providing tasty Mexican-influenced fare.
So when Michelle Wasserman and Chris Bruno, two of the 18 worker-owners at Casa Nueva Restaurant and Cantina, made the decision to set up shop at the Athens Farmer’s Market in October, they not only increased contact with their customers, but also carried out one of their core values: promoting economic well-being.
Every month, Casa Nueva spends $12,000 to $14,000 on meats and produce from farmers in the region, so “going to the market has been a fun way of [further] establishing the relationships that we have,” says Wasserman, Casa Nueva’s food coordinator.
The duo originally made the move to set up at the market, held Saturdays, to provide baked goods, salsas and salad dressings to customers in a one-stop shopping experience.
But market life has also facilitated good business relations with local farmers. Each Saturday, Wasserman takes orders from Casa Nueva’s cooks and buys fresh produce for sale at the market –– including apples from Cherry Orchards and organic vegetables from Green Edge Gardens.
“We’re always looking for people to add to [our] producer list, just for the diversity of products and for the diversity of economics,” says Wasserman. “We want to reach out to the community and keep money circulating throughout it.”
The Athens Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot in front of University Mall on East State Street. For more information about Casa Nueva, call 740/592-9724 or visit www.casanueva.com
. — Rachael Brugger