A la Carte has the tastes of sum­mer at Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods

Away from Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods, A la Carte with be cater­ing and at the Farmer’s Mar­ket

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - BY SEAN LAUGH­LIN/NWA ME­DIA

In 1971, a small group of 10-12 in­di­vid­u­als in North­west Ar­kan­sas formed a buy­ing club to buy large quan­ti­ties of things such as beans and or­ganic brown rice. That small group of in­di­vid­u­als cre­ated what is now Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods, which now is a co-op that has 9,300 own­ers through­out North­west Ar­kan­sas.

In the 45+ years as a com­pany, Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods has moved to many dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions through­out Fayetteville, but found a great home in the Eve­lyn Hills Shop­ping Cen­ter where they have called home since 2000.

“We own the build­ing; we are a debt free or­ga­ni­za­tion, with 9,300 own­ers in the North­west Ar­kan­sas com­mu­nity. And last year we did $11 mil­lion in sales. The store has grown to the level where we work with way more lo­cal pro­duc­ers than we have been able to in the past. 130 that are in our lit­tle ra­dius or our co-op’s them­selves,” Pauline Arnold, Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods’ fresh foods man­ager said.

Be­ing a co-op com­pany, Ozark Nat­u­ral Liv­ing is owned by each and ev­ery owner that is apart of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Be­com­ing an owner is ex­tremely sim­ple and comes with fan­tas­tic ben­e­fits.

To be­come an owner is re­ally sim­ple; it is $140 to­tal in­vest­ment. We ask a min­i­mal pay­ment of $20 a year so over seven years (one time in­vest­ment). You can be­come a fully in­vested owner and that gives you a wealth of ben­e­fits, dis­counts that are only for own­ers in store, we have owner ap­pre­ci­a­tion week­ends where it is 10% off of all your pur­chases the en­tire week­end. Get to vote for our board of direc­tors which does the vi­sion­ing and guides our store, you can also run for the board your­self,” Arnold said.

Other ben­e­fits in­clude be­ing a part of the ‘neigh­bors serv­ing neigh­bors’ pro­gram where you can get dis­counts at other in­de­pen­dently run stores as well be­ing able to get dis­counts at other busi­ness’ around towns if you show them you are an owner.

But, even if you do not want to be­come an owner, you can still shop at Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods and get pre­pared foods from ‘A la Carte’ in the back right of the store.

“(A la Carte is) pre­pared food op­tions from the awe­some prod­ucts that we do source. High qual­ity food com­ing in with these stan­dards that sup­port the val­ues of our own­er­ship and we like to turn them into pre­pared foods that you can en­joy,” Arnold said.

A la Carte has a menu for each sea­son through­out the year. Start­ing this week, A la Carte is tran­si­tion­ing from their spring menu to their sum­mer menu.

“We de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach with our fresh de­part­ments and wrap our menus around the lo­cal prod­ucts that are be­ing grown around us al­ready for our pro­duce depart­ment. The big shifts in the menu de­pend on what crops are in sea­son. Sum­mer is the time where we have ev­ery­thing. Egg­plants, toma­toes, pep­pers, greens, okra. Any­thing that is com­ing in sea­son will be on the (salad and hot) bar,” Arnold said.

Be­sides the big flips that take place in be­tween the sea­sons, A la Carte also has sea­sonal spe­cials that switch. These items in­clude sand­wiches, lattes, and deserts. The bak­ery switches their items more reg­u­larly than the en­trees.

Each day of the week on the hot bar are themed days where all of the foods are con­nected by a style of food that they are. These are served from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

ev­ery day ex­cept on Sun­day’s when they are served from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

“On hot bar, our In­dian days are our most pop­u­lar, so we have two of those that fol­low that theme on Mon­day’s and Wed­nes­day’s, again they fea­ture a lot of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. We brought back some fa­vorites like ‘Stir-Fry Day’ (Fri­day’s), which is a puny one that we re­ally en­joy. Mex­i­can themed menu day (Tues­day’s) is re­ally pop­u­lar that we con­tinue to have. We just change up the dishes de­pend­ing on the sea­son. We brought back Greek from last sum­mer (Satur­day’s), be­cause it is a lighter menu, it al­lows us to use a lot of lo­cally grown crops,” Arnold said.

Other days in­clude Thurs­day’s which are Ozark day’s with BBQ chicken leg quar­ters and Sun­day’s which are com­fort days with BBQ meat­loaf.

Ev­ery day there is also what they call, ‘same day op­tions’. These are BBQ chicken, gar­lic dill car­rots and baked beans. These items will be out ev­ery day for any­one who does not want the themed menus that are set for each day.

Be­sides lunch, A la Carte has a break­fast bar that changes ev­ery day. This is served from 7-10 a.m. ev­ery day ex­cept for Sun­day’s. As well as muffins and scones each day. There are three to choose from, one Ve­gan Muf­fin, one Ve­gan scone and one non-ve­gan scone. As well as two types of piz­zas each day, one meat and one veg­gie. But they can also make other style piz­zas on re­quest.

A la Carte is also ex­tremely proud of the cater­ing com­pany which con­tin­ues to be­come more and more pop­u­lar. They cater any­thing, from menu items, to off the menu, or any spe­cific di­etary pref­er­ences that the cus­tomers may have.

“From events that the store puts on, events, ben­e­fits, fes­ti­vals, we have chil­dren cater­ings com­ing up; we cater for a Mi­nor League base­ball team for ev­ery time they come in town, we cater wed­dings. Hol­i­day cater­ing as well, like Thanks­giv­ing or Christ­mas, es­pe­cially for peo­ple who have a fam­ily mem­ber from out of town that fol­lows a dif­fer­ent diet,” Arnold said.

“We also do a lot of pies and birth­day cakes. Our bak­ery, kind of sets us apart be­cause we are will­ing to work with you with any kind of al­ler­gen or in­gre­di­ent re­quire­ment,” Bryan, as­sis­tant fresh foods man­ager said.

A la Carte is even ex­pand­ing to be­come a part of the Fayetteville Farmer’s Mar­ket that takes place each Satur­day. Their food cart is fin­ished and Arnold is ex­tremely ex­cited to not only see their cart but also ready to hope­fully in­tro­duce their foods to a new group of cus­tomers. Each Satur­day, they will be serv­ing pre­pared sand­wiches, mixed sal­ads as well as yo­gurt par­faits.

An­other item that will be served is their juices which are made ev­ery day from their own pro­duce depart­ment. There are two styles of juices to choose from. If you are feel­ing sick, or a sore throat or detox, A la Carte serves ‘shots’, which are just one ounce drinks to help over­come an ill­ness. They also juice and bot­tle up seven dif­fer­ent fla­vors of juice. These as well come from their pro­duce depart­ment. Their juice menu will soon be ex­pand­ing to nine drinks which in­clude one juice of the day op­tion.

It is no se­cret that Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods and A la Carte take enor­mous pride in their nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents.

“All of our food that we make here at Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods is pre­pared from scratch, and we use a ma­jor­ity of or­ganic in­gre­di­ents which 72% of our in­gre­di­ents are or­ganic and 9% are lo­cal and ev­ery­thing else is all nat­u­ral,” Arnold said.

Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods is lo­cated in the Eve­lyn Hills Shop­ping Cen­ter at 1554 N Col­lege Ave in Fayetteville. For more in­for­ma­tion on Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods or to be­come an owner, go to onf. coop.

SEAN LAUGH­LIN/NORTH­WEST AR­KAN­SAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

A la Carte has two types of pizza each day, a meat pizza and one with only veg­gies. They also make pizza on re­quest.

SEAN LAUGH­LIN/NORTH­WEST AR­KAN­SAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

The break­fast bar is open from 7-10 a.m. and the lunch bar takes over from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. at A la Carte in the back right corner of Ozark Nat­u­ral Foods

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