Don’t let the location – a corner lot in a busy strip mall along Falls Avenue – fool you. Local Dish Market and Café is like no store you’ve experienced before.
The moment you step outside your vehicle and approach Local Dish you know you’re in for a treat. If the smell of organic beef hamburgers on the outside grill doesn’t delight your nostrils, the aroma of Sweet Thai and Mountain basil thriving in an outdoor pot certainly will. Don’t be afraid to plant your nose amongst the leaves, close your eyes and inhale. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice the hot pepper plant and blooming chives.
More aromas await inside, where visitors are welcomed by warm and sincere employees. The owners, James and Leslee Reed of Hagerman, will likely be there as well.
After the couple, 56 and 55, respectively, moved from Hailey to Hagerman a few years ago, they seriously contemplated opening a similar business in their new home town. But then the economy began faltering.
“As much as we wanted to do something like this in Hagerman, there just isn’t the population base to support it,” said Leslee. “It just wouldn’t be viable.”
Over the years, Leslee honed her real estate skills with Canyonside Irwin Realty and James became heavily involved in Idaho’s Bounty, an organization dedicated to building and maintaining a vibrant, sustainable regional food network in Southern Idaho.
James’ involvement in Idaho’s Bounty was paramount to its burgeoning success but he recently left that job to pursue other passions.
Enter Mike Dougherty, of Michael Dougherty Associates. His business touts 25 years of personal restaurant ownership, catering, culinary education, food service consulting, training and corporate team building in the San Francisco, Calif. Mike and his wife Tay checked out Twin Falls during a return trip from Wyoming, where the pair was visiting a beef producer that provides meat to their Bay Area eateries.
In Twin Falls, Mike recognized an opportunity right away.
“We came in, liked the area and the people,” he said. “There is a consciousness about eating right, local and organic, but the main place to buy organic vegetables and beef is Fred Meyer.”
He feels like a pioneer, a leader pointing the way.
“I knew I can make an impact. From the things I know I do well, I knew that something different could be offered and that it would succeed,” Dougherty said.
He searched out similar minds and quickly found the Reeds, and they loved his vision. Dougherty isn’t an owner in the company, but plays a critical role.
“It was along the lines of what we had talked about doing,” Leslee said. “I guess it gave us the confidence to move forward.”
It took only months for Local Dish to go from idea to operation, opening in July. The Reeds spent about $100,000 in start-up costs, remodeled their store’s kitchen and started contacting local producers within about a 100-mile radius, stretching into the Boise area.
“I knew where all the food was,” said James. “And I knew how to get it here.”
Products such as flax seed, pastas, honey and fruit preserves line the shelves in the back, next to a refrigerator filled with root beer, wines, eggs, cheese and other dairy products.
A menagerie of different styled and shaped tables dot the store front. A “grazing lunch” bar lures people on their lunch break to eat homemade potato salad, garden green salad and more.
The Reeds want to keep product offerings 70-percent local, and foods don’t have to be organic. They aren’t rigid off-the-grid type people, but deeply into transparency, relationship and responsibility.
“We want to offer variety and choices – not a certain way of life,” Leslee said. “It’s about educating yourself about what you eat.”
Local Dish Market Café is located at 778 Falls Avenue Twin Falls. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.