Elemental changes: Roaming in the Raw food truck puts down roots on South Liberty Street

HOME BASE: For Jenni Squires and Zack Bier, the launch of their café, Elements Real Food, will provide a brick-and-mortar base for their mobile juice business as well as room to expand their culinary offerings.
HOME BASE: For Jenni Squires and Zack Bier, the launch of their café, Elements Real Food, will provide a brick-and-mortar base for their mobile juice business as well as room to expand their culinary offerings. Photo by Cindy Kunst

One of the logistical idiosyncrasies Zack Bier and Jenni Squires have experienced since they launched their food truck, Roaming in the Raw, in August 2013, is that they’ve had to borrow a brick-and-mortar kitchen. The pair have been using the kitchen of a friend’s North Asheville restaurant during the hours it’s closed to prep Roaming in the Raw’s raw and vegan dishes before hitting the road each day. “Those are some pretty hectic hours sometimes, needless to say,” says Squires.

But the latest step in the couple’s entrepreneurial journey — Elements Real Food — not only gives Roaming in the Raw its very own stationary kitchen, but will provide Bier and Squires a home base from which to grow their health-focused business.

From their new 1,400-square-foot space on South Liberty Street, Bier and Squires plan to offer the same cold-pressed organic juices; raw, vegan nut milks and microgreens that Roaming in the Raw’s tailgate market customers are familiar with. But the 25-seat café, which is expected to open in early April, will also feature a full menu of raw food items as well as soups, salads, sprouted grain sandwiches, sipping broths, vegan cheeses and raw desserts.

Elements’ sipping broths will serve as a vegan counterpoint to the current bone-broth trend, with choices such as Thai lemongrass, miso with shiitake mushroom and turmeric, and Vietnamese ginger broth served hot in mugs. “Instead of sipping on a hot tea or coffee, you’re sipping on a hot broth, something that’s nourishing for you,” explains Squires.

One of the most ambitious new initiatives for Squires and Bier will be the addition of Elements Chef Boxes. These takeout kits with prewashed, precut, premeasured ingredients will allow customers to make organic, gourmet vegan meals at home in 30 minutes or less — Squires cites a Thai curry with house-made coconut milk as one example of the varieties that will be available. They also plan to market a raw-food kit, which will include “juice, a salad, snacks, basically what you would need to get you through the day with raw food,” Squires says.

The meal boxes will be priced around $10 per person and are aimed at providing busy, health-conscious people a way to cook without the hassle of shopping for the ingredients. “Our goal is to bring healthy, delicious food to people without them having to spend an hour in the grocery store combing over every ingredient and making sure it’s what they want for their families. We’re going to do that for them,” she says.

“It’s almost like you’re watching a cooking show, and everything is measured and ready to go, and they can make it very quickly,” she continues. “But nothing is from a can; everything is made from scratch in-house.”

New staff members are being added to help at the café, including Lauren Amerson who will serve as chef along with Squires. Décor at Elements will feature art installations from Odyssey ClayWorks — the studio’s director Gabriel Kline has been one of Roaming in the Raw’s best customers since it opened, says Squires.

And as for the couple’s roving roots, Roaming in the Raw will keep on rolling, staying active at local tailgate markets and festivals. “It’s a great way to get out there into the community,” Squires says. “ We support all the local farmers as much as possible, and our biggest goal is to bring local, organic, fresh-as-possible food to people who need it. And, you know, we all need it.”

Elements Real Food is expected to open the first week of April at 233 S. Liberty St. roamingintheraw.com, 713-7513

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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