The Urban Farmhouse: Bringing the Farm to the City

Coming from a number of fast food chains, Kathleen Richardson knew a thing or two about the business, but she wanted to do something a little different. So she dove back into her hometown of Richmond, Virginia and opened a fast casual of her own, The Urban Farmhouse Market & Café. Founded in 2010, the mission behind The Urban Farmhouse is to bring the farm to the city and suburbs while providing customers with local, wholesome food. Though their menu is not outrageously unique, the way each menu item is made is what makes them stand out.

“For almost all of our salads, salad dressings, sandwich ingredients, we either prepare or cut here on the premises. That to me is a difference that I feel is important in defining fast casual.”

Redefining fast casual seems to be a theme here. Coming from McDonald's, Richardson knew a lot about limited time offers (LTO’s) but at The Urban Farmhouse Market & Café, LTO’s don’t exist. Instead, Urban Farmhouse changes their menus seven times a year, in accordance with the Virginia growing calendar.

In addition to using local farmers and producers as their purveyors, The Urban Farmhouse expands on its dedication to local by showcasing local artisanal products like beer, chocolates, and almonds. As Kathleen explains, they don’t do anything the easy way. “You’re working with this local for this one product, this local… Doing that for 20 different products versus being able to call up one distributor and getting all of that there. It’s time-consuming, it’s a lot of paperwork but it’s kind of who we are. We can’t be any different.”

Learn more about The Urban Farmhouse Market & Café on this episode of Fast Casual Nation.

Entrepreneurs Have a New Playground in Minneapolis

Artisanal food makers are getting their pails and shovels ready to play in a new sandbox. Located in northeast Minneapolis is the Food Building, an artisanal food production hub that launched just last year, but has already garnered significant industry attention.

When asked about his vision for the Food Building and the products inside, Kieran Folliard, the visionary behind the Food Building who also brought The Local and The Liffey and 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey to life, said "It takes time."

Meaning it takes time to come up with an idea, develop the necessary skills and execute the optimal plan. It takes time to create a truly special concept. The idea first came about when Folliard realized how absurd it was to ship out Minneapolis pigs to be processed and then shipped back as California or New York-made meats. He decided Minneapolis should be able to make world-class products on its own.

"Food Building is about the story of how do we make good food," he said. "It's interesting and fun. It has its own personality and a little bit of a culture we are trying to create — one of doing really good work that makes a difference in the quality of the product." Read More