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Scott Bowman is weeks away from welcoming his first customers to Fowl and Fodder, but a theme already seems to have emerged at what will be one of the area’s first restaurants to source nearly everything it serves from local farms and producers.
In order to be successful, there’s no room for waste.
Mr. Bowman salvaged century-old lumber from a barn in Dundee, Mich., to line the walls of his new restaurant. Corrugated metal that once kept the rain out of another 19th-century Michigan barn is now doing duty as the front of his walk-up counter.
His recipes show the same level of prudence.
To keep costs down, he’ll buy the whole cow or pig and use nearly everything. Cracklings from the skin of the pigs, for example, will be sprinkled atop tacos. It’s about being sustainable, sure, but it’s also about being profitable.
“It’s the only way I could do it, fiscally,” he said.
A 12-year veteran of the commercial restaurant industry, Mr. Bowman is aiming to take on the likes of Chipotle and Panera with his first venture on his own. He’ll do it almost exclusively with ingredients purchased from Ohio farms, bakeries, and artisan cheese shops. The only things not grown or made in Ohio will be his mangoes, pineapples, and avocados.
That means higher costs and lower profit margins, but Mr. Bowman argues it also means better tasting food.
“I love food, I’m passionate about food,” he said. “I know how much better food tastes when it’s picked the day it’s prepared and doesn't have to travel 500 miles to get to its destination.”
That farm-to-table concept is unique for the area, Mr. Bowman argues, especially for a fast-service casual dining restaurant.
“There’s a few places in Toledo that are buying locally from the same people that I am, but they’re sit-down, $25-a-plate restaurants,” he said. “Our prices are somewhat comparable to Chipotle or Panera, but you’re three to five-minute ticket times, and you’re getting really, really good food for that.”
Fowl and Fodder is in the midst of a fund-raising drive on Kickstarter, looking to generate $20,000 by May 24. So far, it’s only captured a little more than $3,000 worth of pledges.
Though Mr. Bowman said getting that funding will make things a lot easier out of the gate, the restaurant will open either way.
The restaurant, which is located at 7408 W. Central Ave. — just east of King Road — in Sylvania Township is relatively small, with seating for 20 people. Eventually he hopes to add catering and a food truck to the operation.
The menu will change often, particularly with salads, though there will be several staples.
“People know what they like and they want to know what to expect when they walk in a place,” Mr. Bowman said.
The menu features a variety of pork, beef, and fowl dishes.
He sees the restaurant’s signature item being a duck pastrami. Mr. Bowman admits he’s not sure if it’ll be a top seller or a novelty. There also will be a juice bar. He plans to open by the middle of June.
As he approaches that, he’s certain of two things. One is his concept of fresh, local food. The second thing he’s confident of is that this isn’t going to be easy.
“I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult, but I’m incredibly tenacious,” he said. “The problem is how do we make it work here? We’re trying to solve that problem right now, and once we can answer that question we can do a lot more with it, or we go back to the drawing board and do it all over again.”