Local Foods are expanding their business. Locally sourced ingredients have become synonymous with Chicago restaurants, and the folks at Local Foods are optimizing this movement by announcing a large multi-use facility in Bucktown. Set to open in fall 2014 at 1455 W. Willow, Local Foods will devote a substantial portion of the sprawling 27,000 square foot building to the rapidly expanding wholesale distribution sector of the business, as well as a USDA-inspected meat processing facility, shared office space, and additional areas designated to food service partnerships and future collaborations. Further bridging the gap between the Midwest’s finest farmers and the consumer, the Local Foods facility will also house a 3,500 square foot retail center and market, allowing the general public to shop year-round for a diverse array of local farm fare under one roof.
Local Foods is an organization that was founded in early 2013 by Andrew Lutsey, who recognized a tremendous surge in local sourcing and the insatiable need for a farmer-to-chef connection. Shortly thereafter, Dave Rand and Ryan Kimura joined the team as Lutsey’s business partners. No strangers to the industry, Lutsey, Rand and Kimura bring a diverse range of sustainability knowledge to the table, each vastly experienced in their own right.
Under the direction of this dynamic trio, Local Foods has spent its inaugural year of business distributing and delivering exclusively local products to restaurants, grocers and institutions.
Since the company’s inception in March 2013, when Local Foods grossed sales of $600, the company has quickly grown to achieve monthly sales of nearly $90,000, affirming Chicago’s desire for locally sourced products. Local Foods has not only enabled easier access for consumers, but the company prides itself on its ability to help farms expand their reach in the city on a regular basis. This allows small producers to sell their products on a much broader scale, a veritable win-win scenario for the food community as a whole.
“Until now, there have been few channels for small scale, family farms to sell products in Chicagoland beyond farmers markets,” says Kimura. “Local Foods offers a market for locally-produced products while removing the burden of driving and logistics. Because the farm name stays on all products, the farmer can feel good about their reputation, and chefs know exactly where their food comes from.”
Now, with the forthcoming brick and mortar location in the works alongside the company’s increasing wholesale focus, the everyday consumer will have access to a full catalog of the best the Midwest has to offer: specialty greens, herbs, root vegetables, berries, tree fruits, grains, eggs, cheeses, and pasture-raised meats, to name a few. Local Foods will source and deliver these products exclusively from neighboring farms, small family producers and rural food hubs—many of which are certified organic, grow or support Slow Food Ark of Taste varieties and implement sustainable and environmental farming practices.
Farm to Table
In the past year, Local Foods has broadened its customer breadth to include more than 100 of the area’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurants, such as Trenchermen, Farmhouse, Nana, Inovasi, The Radler, Fred’s at Barneys and more, as well as retailers and caterers such as Dill Pickle Food Co-op, Standard Market and White Oak Gourmet. Local Foods also has formed partnerships with 35 farmers and eight food hubs, representing over 100 producers that span five degrees of latitude in the Midwest. Partners include: This Old Farm (Indiana), Keewaydin Organics (Wisconsin), Montalbano Farms (Illinois), Bane Family Meats (Illinois), Greens & Gills (Illinois) to name a few.
The Local Foods team now includes 10 impassioned employees working together to streamline the process with its one-stop shop philosophy. Rather than necessitating excess communication with a multitude of purveyors and finagling delivery times, the company eases the burden by delivering everything all at once, fresh from the farm.
Local Foods has already achieved great success forging the middle ground between farm and table, alleviating the stresses of sourcing farm-fresh ingredients, but the company continues to expand on new platforms. Local Foods is consistently increasing its presence in schools that have access to full-service kitchens and support cook-from-scratch food service. Currently, the company delivers to institutions such as Francis W. Parker School, Latin School of Chicago and Kendall College, opening the doors for more wholesome food programs throughout Chicago.
For more information, please visit: www.localfoods.com.
Photo caption: Andrew Lutsey, left, Ryan Kimura, center and Dave Rand. The photo is by Jeffrey Marini.