LEOMINSTER — Love and delicious aromas were in the air on Valentine’s Day at Roots Natural Foods, the long-awaited day when the cafe officially reopened.
Although the health food store side of the Crawford Street business has been open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the cafe kitchen and organic juice bar has been for the most part closed since the initial pandemic shutdown in March of 2020.
They have offered cafe popups, including on Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day last year, but this marks the cafe once again offering a full spectrum of homemade soups and broths, bowls, baked goods, coffee, lattes, teas and more.
In a recent social media post Roots owner Marieke Cormier explained the two main reasons why they decided to keep the cafe closed over the last three years — “it was truly a much-needed break” that gave them the opportunity to focus on their roots, the market, and “self-care.”
“… we knew that we needed to close the cafe to survive,” she penned. “Our main focus was to serve our community groceries, wellness medicine and a place [where] you could feel safe. We did it, we are on the other side….”
Cormier went on to talk about the second part, “I think the most important reason.”
“Roots Kitchen became something bigger than our wildest dreams. It was a place. It was a home. It was a vibe. It was beautiful wild thing. But, It was a fast moving train that we hung onto as it was barreling down the tracks at 1000 miles an hour,” she wrote. “In the 5 years the kitchen was open, we not only had the cafe jammin… line out the door all day everyday….we did farm dinners, weddings, outside events, daily catering, classes, non profit work all while operating a full market.
“We loved serving people healing, beautiful organic food. it was epic-the krew (sic) we had, the customers, the vendors… it was a wild ride… but the downside the burnout was real… on a cellular level, spiritual level, physical level,” Marieke continued, “and we didn’t even realize till he had a little breathing room, that in order for us to continue this dream we literally needed to stop… and it’s taken about three years and we are ready to bring back our made to order kitchen with renewed vision, outlook and understanding of WELLBEING. It will be different and that’s ok….Thanks so much and we will be so happy to see you and FINALLY be able to say, yes we are open!!! Your smiles are magic…and thanks for your patience… cheers!”
They plan to gradually increase their menu offerings and people of all ages have been flocking back to the popular spot to get their Roots made to order kitchen fix. City residents Kyle Cawley and Megan Hardy stopped by last Tuesday with their adorable 10-month-old daughter Penelope in tow.
“It’s our favorite place ever,” Megan said while they noshed on two bowls filled with all kinds of yummy ingredients including mashed potatoes that her daughter happily ate “in two seconds.” The mom shared that they saw the news about the cafe reopening on social media and that they were “so excited” to return.
Tiffany Hargon and her daughter Malkiyah, 6, who were also there on opening day, are frequent Roots shoppers. The Fitchburg mom said they “visit it often,” especially as Roots offers a wide variety of foods that fit their gluten and dairy free lifestyle. She loves that they have a plethora of items that meet their dietary needs including sugar free cereal and other staples such as gluten free pastas, crackers, and other dry goods.
Cormier and her Roots chef boyfriend Kevin Williams, who is a monthly Sentinel & Enterprise food columnist, said they are thrilled to have people back in the cafe — and that their entire crew is happy to be serving both loyal and new customers again in this capacity.
“So far, so amazing,” Cormier commented on how it’s going. “We love seeing the smiles and shocked faces walking into the cafe with disbelief and total joy. The warm reception to our cafe being open this week has been positive and (it’s) extremely exciting to see what’s to come.”