Stacie Bale is a proponent of fresh, locally sourced food — but she wants to make it clear that her new venture, Roadrunner Kitchen, is not a vegan restaurant.
A previous restaurant Bale owned and operated, Earth Friends Café, was regarded by many as a vegan establishment, even when there were few if any vegan restaurants open.
“We always had meat,” she said.
Roadrunner Kitchen, which she plans to open Monday, Feb. 26, in downtown New Albany along with business partner Sarah Hastings, will have veggie options, for sure, but it will also feature plenty of meat, cheese and other non-vegan items.
The focal point of Roadrunner will be healthful, grab-and-go lunches for busy people, with ingredients sourced from local farms.
The menu will focus on items like garden and spinach salads, wraps such as chicken pesto, Mediterranean tuna, chicken salad, falafel and more.
A sample menu also listed power smoothies as an option, although the final menu is still in development. Espressos and fresh juices also will be available.
Bale said the business model is based on concepts she found in larger cities.
“It’s huge in Chicago,” she said. “It’s going to be the future.”
“More and more in society,” Hastings added, “people are looking for speed.”
But a concept like Roadrunner Kitchen takes the concept of “fast food” to a different place, the idea being, Hastings said, “to take something that is fresh and sustainable and make you feel good after eating it.”
While the menu will be exclusively grab-and-go upon opening, eventually soups, rice bowls and other hot foods will be added. Those obviously won’t be quick-serve but will be fresh and locally sourced as much as possible, just as the rest of the menu will be.
The restaurant will have seating for about 30 for anyone who isn’t in a hurry. Those who are will even be able to pay at a kiosk to further expedite the process.
In addition, price points will be tailored for value and the customer’s level of hunger. If you’re not terribly famished, grab a wrap for $5 or $6. Sides will be sold separately so you can satisfy an appetite but you’re never stuck paying for food you don’t want.
“We’ll piece it out,” Bale said, to which Hastings added, “A lot of times you can’t get out of a restaurant for under $20.”
And on days when you might not have the time or ingredients to make lunch at home, or when fast food simply isn’t what you want, Roadrunner will offer options.
The front of house portion of the restaurant, located at 145 E. Main St. in the former site of Urban Bread Co., was still in the final preparations earlier this week, but the kitchen was ready to roll. That’s in part because much of the leftover equipment came with the space.
Hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. upon opening, although ultimately the duo wants to add a similarly expedient breakfast menu.
“I want to clock out and go home at 2,” Bale said. “I’m a mom.”
Hastings is, as well, which is only one part of why they decided to team up on the concept. She had worked for Bale at Earth Friends, and also worked with her at Bank Street Brewhouse, Bale’s previous stop. The two left the brewery recently to focus on food.
The planned move of the New Albany and Floyd County government offices will place a built-in audience just across the street in the future, so not only did the timing seem right, but the concept as well. In a corridor filled with sit-down restaurants ranging from Hull and High Water to Gospel Bird to The Exchange Kitchen, Roadrunner will be a bird of a different feather.
“Nobody’s doing this down here,” Bale said. “We’re going to be trendsetters.”