Thursday, February 23, 2012

Durham's Museum of Life & Science Soon to Sprout

Good food in Durham is about as important as good times.  Come March, both can be had here at the Museum of Life and Science when a new café, with a new look, new menu and new ownership opens for business.

After meeting with several local restaurant owners who expressed interest, the Museum chose to award the contract to Tom Meyer.  Meyer got his start in the restaurant business locally as an employee at Durham's vaunted Nana's, the owner of which, Scott Howell, has recently been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for his culinary excellence.  Meyer later became involved with Durham's The Original Q Shack in 2003 and now owns The Q-Shack in Raleigh and Green's Restaurant at UNC Hospital.  He is no longer involved with Durham's The Original Q Shack.

“We decided to award the contract to Mr. Meyer because of his commitment to quality service and emphasis on preparing healthy meals that are made using ingredients from local farmers,” says Shawntel Landavazo with the Museum, project leader of the café selection process.

Buying local is the basis of Meyer’s business model. "Foods grown in their unique climates take on the characteristics, or 'tastes' of their places.  In North Carolina, we are blessed with a huge assortment of wonderful produce, meats and artisan producers,” says Meyer. The company’s product procurement plan focuses on buying locally when available and regionally when seasons or supply changes.

The buy local message will not only be part of the taste experience, but part of the overall patron experience. Future plans include teaching visitors about the benefits of buying local and to show how food goes from the farm to the table. Implementing exhibits about composting and water reuse and a seasonal garden are currently being discussed between Meyer and the Museum. Programs which focus on the benefits of local produce may also take place in the future.

So what will you find in this new café? Well you won’t find a microwave or chefs opening a can of beans with a can opener. Instead you’ll find fresh collard greens, sweet potatoes, cabbage and an assortment of meats that are free of steroids, pesticides and preservatives and meals that are never cooked in hydrogenated oils.

Vegetarian and gluten free options will be available. And if you suffer from food allergies, the new café includes a prep area where meals can be specially made to eliminate the risk of cross contamination.  According to Landavazo, meals will not only be healthy, but reasonably priced and delicious. 

The new Sprout café is scheduled to open its doors to the public in March.  Learn more about dining options in Durham here.

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