When owner Melody Sharpe decided to open Local Flavor, she kept the freezers stocked with the ready-to-go casseroles that Olivia’s customers loved so much.
The café and catering shop took over the same space at 809 College Hill Road, but it doesn’t serve up the regular fare that most locals have come to expect from the restaurant scene in Oxford.
Instead, Sharpe decided to offer vegetarian and vegan fare, along with grass-fed beef and gluten-free options. Each week, she’s adding more gluten-free options to her to-go and eat-in menus. Next week, they’ll add organic white chicken and spinach lasagna to the already lengthy list of to-go options.
And she’s also working on a gluten-free carrot cake right now.
She had to change a number of the previous casserole recipes, but that didn’t faze her.
“I had my momma’s cookbook, so it’s fine,” Sharpe said, smiling brightly. Other options include chicken Rotel pasta, breakfast casserole, veggie pie, and of course the freezer is stocked with Delta tamales.
Small casseroles feed three to four people, while bigger dishes feed six to 10. Pricing for small casseroles in the $7 to $12 range.
If a busy mom on the go doesn’t have time to heat up a casserole at home, just call ahead and one of her seven full-time workers (including Sharpe) will be happy to have it heated up and ready when you arrive.
The store’s café is also seeing a glut of foot traffic, and they’re in fact “busting at the seams” because so many people stop in for lunch. Sharpe said the quinoa and paleo bowls are popular hits in colder weather and people love the organic salads. The grass-fed beef burger is also a big seller.
You can also get organic juices you’d normally find in larger cities, such as wheatgrass shots and many other flavor combinations. And the T-shirts behind the counter, with slogans such as Kale Yeah!, are worth a look.
Sharpe decided to start reading a number of labels after her first son was born, because he had several allergies. Once she started reading, she said, she couldn’t stop. She was shocked that milk protein, one food her son can’t eat, was in so many foods.
She was so frustrated that she started writing down a list about her dream store, and by the time she was finished, she said, “I said this is a business.”
If she’s made any mistakes, she said, the only one was underestimating the market. She isn’t worried about it, though. “God equips you for what you can handle,” she said, sitting for a moment between unpacking fresh vegetables from vendors and getting back to the kitchen, to prepare more lasagnas for the after-work crowd.
You can find Local Flavor on Facebook or at its website.
Gretchen Stone is HottyToddy.com associate editor. Gretchen can be contacted about this story at Gretchen.Stone@HottyToddy.com
Local Flavor Makes Carry-Out Easy
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