Roots Cafe Brings Local, Seasonal Menu to South End

December 23, 2017 4:23 pm

Charlotte chef and Roots Cafe owner Craig Barbour’s a passion for local food began early on in his career, starting with his first job after culinary school.

“It was the middle of June and I had a garden at my house and I had a bunch of herbs and things like that,” Barbour says. “I walked into the walk-in cooler to get a bag of chives and I was like “Why are we getting chives from Argentina in the middle of June in the South? That’s crazy.””  

The herbs from Argentina catalyzed Barbour’s interest in local produce and farmer’s markets. 

Barbour went on to start a business connecting local farmers with local restaurants, a model he later used with his popular Roots food trucks, his catering business, and now, his restaurant, Roots Cafe.  

“Chefs are really passionate about food once it hits the table and farmers are really passionate about it before it hits the hands of another person,” Barbour says. “When you use local food, you kind of feel a responsibility to make the product as good as it can be.”  

Barbour opened Roots Cafe in June of 2017, serving seasonal menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays and adding in a brunch menu for weekends. The multiple menus are constantly evolving, focusing on what is doing well with customer along with what is in season for the farmers he works with, but the focus is primarily on hearty sandwiches and healthy bowls.  

“All of our sandwiches have some sort of cheese or bacon or aioli, they’re what you want in a sandwich,” Barbour says. “All of our bowls have meat, protein, veggies and that’s pretty much it.” 

With Roots Catering being his focus, Barbour hadn’t been planning to open the brick and mortar location but, while taking his dog to the veterinarian next door, he saw the former Cluck and Cup location was for lease and decided he wanted to open a cafe.   

“It was three weeks from idea, inception to execution,” he says. 

When the restaurant became a reality, Barbour and his wife did some research into what they wanted the cafe to be, considering everything from the atmosphere to the coffee machines to the house-made pastrami.  

“I went to Frankel’s Deli in Brooklyn and ate a pastrami sandwich there. After I ate it I was like “I have to make this,”” Barbour says. “Our pastrami is start to finish from scratch.”  

Barbour uses local meat, his own brine and rubs and cooks the pastrami for six to eight hours. Along with pastrami, Barbour’s current favorite dish is the Grilled Sweet Potato and Steak Bowl topped with chimichurri sauce.  

“The combination of those two things with some corn and warm black beans is really, really good.” 

Being a cafe, Barbour also thought it was important to focus on beverages and created a coffee subscription service so South Enders can get their caffeine fix. Twenty five dollars gets you all the drip coffee you want, all month long and for 45 dollars a month you can get any bar drink you want, including lattes and cold brew. 

Coffee isn’t the only beverage Roots Cafe focuses on. They also serve beer and wine, offering up free wine tastings each week and an ever-changing wine menu to compliment the evolving food menu.  

With colder weather, Roots has been serving warm soups and sandwiches along with their full menu of sandwiches, salads and bowls. While the food and wine menus at Roots Cafe are always changing, the dedication to delicious local food is a constant.  

You can stop by Roots Cafe at 2135 Southend Drive, Suite 109 on weekdays from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm and on weekends from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.  

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