Although the Farm to Fork owner Sherry Hurley has grown beyond catering only to opening a storefront serving breakfast and lunch in the Portland neighborhood, her mission remains stalwart: to support farmers and connect them to urban consumers.
Hurley, who grew up in western Kentucky eating meat and produce from nearby farms, said, “I thought everyone ate like that until I went to college.”
Farm to Fork hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning at its storefront and catering commissary, 2425 Portland Ave.
“You walk into this place, and it sings success, and it sings authenticity,” Mayor Greg Fischer said at the event. He stated that Farm to Fork is “creating another destination point” within the Portland neighborhood, which the filmmaker and developer Gill Holland has been working to revitalize.
Farm to Fork is actually part of that — a group of investors including Holland bought 2425 Portland Ave. in 2011 and invested almost $200,000 in it to make it suitable for a restaurant tenant. Hurley said she invested another $150,000, which came from a $75,000 METCO loan and private investment.
While a low-income neighborhood like Portland might not seem like a natural fit for a farm-to-table concept, Hurley said Farm to Fork not only provides the neighborhood with another sit-down restaurant option — something west Louisville lacks in comparison to other areas of the city — but also fills a different niche than the others.
Several of the other eateries nearby are nonprofits. The Table was the first new restaurant to move in, serving healthy food options at a “pay what you can” price. Porkland BBQ restaurant and Cup of Joy coffee shop and cafe, also nonprofits, later opened in Portland.
While Farm to Fork is a for-profit restaurant, Hurley said she still wanted to keep her prices approachable. The current menu includes a vegan sweet potato and black bean wrap for $7, a chicken salad sandwich with meat from Grace Farms for $9 and chili with beef from Foxhollow Farms for $6.
Hurley told Insider that while some may think $6 is high for chili and for the neighborhood, she says the portion is large and it includes cornbread. The ingredients are sourced regionally and are sustainable, which cost more than meat found at the grocery or through a major food distributor.
Farm to Fork opened quietly last week and has served about 100 customers, who’ve given Hurley positive feedback, she said. However, as with any business, it will take time to build up a strong customer base.
The catering operations will drive and support Farm to Fork in the meantime.
“To use a food pun, I would say it’s our cash cow,” Hurley said. “I don’t even consider it a risk because our catering business is self-sustaining. … This allows us to both actually share more of the food we are already making with people; it helps us with food waste; it helps us with labor; it helps give stability to our employees who want regular hours.”
Hurley has three part-time employees, a baker, a general manager, catering manager and a head chef. She hopes to hire more people in the future, as business hopefully grows and as she considers dinner service. (In the meantime, Farm to Fork will host some pop-up dinners to get a feel for the neighborhood’s appetite for a dinner spot.)
The hours of operation for Farm to Fork’s cafe are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.