The Local Eatery & Pub Brings Farm-To-Table Food to Westfield
Writer / Jane VanOsdol
Photographer / Amy Payne
Eight years in, owner Derek Means is reaping the success of his farm-to-table restaurant. Located at 14655 North Gray Road in Westfield, the Local Eatery & Pub has found its spot in the fresh food niche. Featuring hand-crafted freshly made artisan foods and locally crafted ales and cocktails, the Local Eatery sources natural and organic ingredients from Central Indiana small farmers whenever possible.
Means and his former partner Craig Baker worked off plans that Baker brought from his time living and working in Oregon. The two worked to establish relationships with local farmers to provide fresh produce, meat and beverages for the restaurant. Word quickly spread in this close-knit community, and soon farmers were contacting the Local Eatery themselves.
At the time, farm-to-table was a new concept in the Midwest, but Means was game.
“To me, it made complete sense,” he says. “We’re going to support the local economy and we’re cutting down our food mile, which dramatically decreases our carbon footprint. Being a good steward [of the environment] is something we’ve always ascribed to do.”
Farm-to-Table: A Movement That’s Catching On
Today, independent restaurants are increasingly making it a point of business to connect with small, local farmers who are striving to make a living in this niche market. The Local Eatery is proof of what Means sees as a sustainable movement in the restaurant industry.
“I think we’ve seen a little bit of a paradigm shift in our food supply, and I think that’s an amazing thing, and we’ll continue to move that way for sure,” Means says.
To nurture support between grower and consumer, Means is planning a meet-the-farmer dinner in late summer or early fall, a practice that is popular in other communities.
Foodservice provider Piazza Produce is also helping to further the movement by offering locally grown produce and specialty items in addition to their regular menu.
Benefits of Farm-to-Table Lifestyle
Means knows that successful small farms are a winning venture for all involved for several reasons:
• Environment. “On a macro scale, we’re helping to have a healthy environment,” Meads says. “We’re closing the food mile to where it’s very small.”
Additionally, the Local is a big supporter of recycling. They do 100 percent recycling and have worked to make it possible for all the businesses in their strip mall to use a single-stream recycling container. They also are looking into composting their food scraps with a local service.
• Supporting small farms. Farm-to-table enables small family farms that generally have tight profit margins to stay in business without becoming big corporate farms.
• Product safety. Farm-to-table is not mass-produced food. Small farmers are completely engaged in what they’re doing. They know the community and the people who are buying their food.
• Variety. Instead of a homogenous product, small farms can cultivate crops of flavorful artisan or heirloom crops that make it a joy to eat.
“Something that is authentic, close to the land, and very tasty,” Means says.
The Local Eatery boasts a menu that is updated every three weeks. What’s in season is generally worked into the entrees and added to the menu. Means and chef Ian McCarty work with the farmers to make changes in real time as farmers update them on what they’re harvesting. As far as favorites go, Means loves their “phenomenal” tenderloin sandwich, the hummus plate, the flavorful veggie burger and their grass-fed, dry-aged beef hamburgers.
As expected, winter in Indiana limits the availability of fresh produce. The Local Eatery sources hydroponic lettuce from Green River Farms in Peru, Indiana, obtains root vegetables and apples from local farms and continues sourcing meat from their protein farmers. What they can’t source locally is shipped in to round out the menu.
The Local Eatery & Pub is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Interested in being a farmer for the Local Eatery? Call Derek Means at the restaurant at 317-218-3786.