If you let your appetite lead you through Loveland, you might find yourself in a restaurant anchored in the heart of downtown. This comforting, locally-oriented spot bears the name Taste Local. The first thing you will notice about Taste Local is how well it fits. The restaurant exudes feelings of familiarity and seems like it has always existed in that location. The second thing you will notice is the quirky, grandma-chic furnishings spread throughout the interior. The tables, made of locally reclaimed wood, are adorned with upcycled napkins and flatware. Taste Local makes a point to live up to its namesake. The owner, Vickey Bittner, has made it her mission to ensure the entire operation is as environmentally sustainable and as locally sourced as possible. This goal of sustainability seeps into everything, from the upcycled and reclaimed decor to the local ingredients.
“We make sure to source as many local ingredients as we can and use seasonal ingredients when possible. When we can’t, we do the best we can or adjust our menu as needed.”, Vickey explains.
The food at Taste Local is fantastic, and each dish has its own creative and personal spin. They prepare excellent adaptations of the team’s childhood favorites. The menu is a hodge-podge of sandwiches, salads, and breakfast favorites that accompany a thoughtful selection of local beverages. The biscuits and gravy is a delicious hit- deeply savory, it tastes like something your mom would have cooked with fresh, on-hand ingredients- and that is exactly the point.
Vickey balances her love for food with her love for sustainability. With over a decade of experience in the catering business, she knows her stuff when it comes to the kitchen. She also lived in Germany for a stint and was moved by how committed Europeans are to reducing waste. This realization developed a strong desire in Vickey to operate a business in a responsible, eco-friendly way.
The culmination of these two passions led to her first venture in the restaurant business.
“I like the fact we provide delicious food in a relaxed environment for our local people. Great food that’s approachable- that’s what I wanted to do,” Vickey says.
Great food and sustainability tend to go hand in hand. A French term, “terroir”, describes the relationship between natural environmental characteristics and the food we eat. Taste Local subscribes to this philosophy and aims to capitalize on natural flavors. Not only does their operation get the freshest, most in-season ingredients, but they also use methods that result in fewer negative environmental impacts.
Better tasting food with positive impacts on both the local economy and the environment? That’s a win-win. Taste Local doesn’t stop their sustainability efforts on the supply side, either. The restaurant currently recycles by giving all of their non-meat food waste to feed pigs at a local hog farm.
“We want to do anything we can do to lessen our negative impact on our environment and make a smaller footprint,” Vickey says.
Another step Taste Local takes to maximize resources is through sharing their space with Starlight Dessert Bar in the evening. This means that the coveted downtown location can be used all day and night, thus minimizing utilities.
Vickey strongly advocates for her employees to take ownership in the restaurant. If they want to create a new menu item, she lets the kitchen experiment. If they suggest a change in décor or setup, she’s all ears. The collaborative mentality and sustainable approach definitely shine through in the results.
All of the restaurant’s creative components, from homey Goodwill cups and plates to the rustic bar comprised of wood from a nearby rail yard, are 100 percent a part of the vision conceived by Vickey and the Taste Local team. Now that Taste Local has been in business for 2 and a half years, Vickey says she is looking towards the future.
“We are always looking for new ways to expand our menu to suit our local’s tastes or improve our methods. There are always ways we can improve,” she says.