Stories indexed with the term ‘locavore’

Bella Ciao Restaurant to Close

Bella Ciao restaurant on West Liberty.

June 20 will be the last day of service at Bella Ciao restaurant on West Liberty.

On any given night when the weather allows, you’ll usually find James Macdonald chatting with customers or passers-by at his West Liberty restaurant, Bella Ciao, as servers shuttle in and out of the building to serve outdoor diners. But not for much longer. After running the restaurant for over 22 years, he and his wife Kathy Macdonald are selling the business to local chef Brandon Johns, who plans to transform it over the summer into an eatery that highlights food from local farms and markets.

Bella Ciao will remain open through the upcoming Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, an event spearheaded by James Macdonald that highlights downtown restaurants and features set-price lunches and dinners. Bella Ciao’s last dinner service will be on Saturday, June 20. Johns, with his wife Sara Johns and two business partners, plan to renovate the restaurant and open it in early August as Grange Kitchen & Bar.

The deal closed earlier this week. Kathy Macdonald made the announcement at Thursday morning’s membership meeting of the Main Street Area Association, which The Chronicle attended. In a phone interview later in the day, she said they plan to focus on their other local business, Pastabilities, a pasta wholesaler that sells to area groceries and chefs. She said they’ll be selling off most of Bella Ciao’s extensive wine list as well. “There’s only so much we can bring home,” she said. [Full Story]

Column: Arbor Vinous

Joel Goldberg

Joel Goldberg

OK, I’ll ‘fess up. I’m becoming a locabibe.

What’s that? Let’s start with “locavore,” which Oxford University Press unilaterally proclaimed as 2007′s word of the year:

The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation.

And locabibe? That would be a locavore on a liquid diet. Locabibes are the folks at the next table in the restaurant who ask for filtered tap water instead of Evian, thereby skipping a heavy plastic bottle schlepped halfway around the globe to deliver essentially the same product that flows for free from the kitchen faucet.

Or, it’s possible that they’re merely cheap. [Full Story]

Locavore Dining at the 100-Mile Dinner

Brandon Johns shops at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market earlier this summer.

Brandon Johns, left, buys produce from Mark Wilson of Wilson's Farms at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market earlier this summer. The chef and partner at Vinology is committed to buying local ingredients for the restaurant.

This morning you might spot Brandon Johns at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market around 7 a.m., in Saline’s market a bit later, and up at Brighton by 10 (actually, if you spot him at all three places, let’s hope you’ve got a good reason to be following him around). Since becoming partner and chef for Vinology restaurant in May, Johns has pushed to use as many locally produced ingredients as possible, from radishes and rabbits to peaches and pigs.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, he’ll put an even brighter spotlight on locavores with a 100-mile dinner – no food allowed from farther than 100 miles away. Most of the food actually comes from within a 25-mile radius of Ann Arbor, Johns says. The only totally non-local ingredients are olive oil, pepper and salt, though “I could probably get Michigan road salt and purify it,” he quips. Uh…no, thanks. [Full Story]