Slow Food Columbus

Heirloom Cafe

1871 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201

Campus is very nearly a food desert (except for pizza and Gyros and the like), so it's amazing to come across a gem like this little cafe in the Wexner Center. It's worth the effort to track it down: the food is really good, and the restaurant's commitment to sustainability runs far deeper than one might realize at a casual glance.

Heirloom serves up a menu that is more than 50% organic and local, supplemented from their own on-campus restaurant garden and the new, off-campus Heirloom Urban Garden. Nearly all of their meats are Ohio Free Range and all natural, and they personally know many of the producers they source from. Those producers, who can be sparing with praise, invariably speak very highly of Chef John Skaggs at farmers' markets and OEFFA meetings. Inspiring that degree of loyalty from their farmers isn't their goal, of course, but it's a by-product of doing things the right way.

Moreover, the restaurant is a certified zero waste facility. This is a big deal, and it's very hard to accomplish: it involves minimizing waste inputs, composting, recycling, and ensuring that nothing goes to landfills and incinerators. If you think about how difficult that would be for a household, you get a sense of the magnitude of the challenge for Kimberly Skaggs, Chef John's wife and business partner, who despite the frenetic pace of the cafe will greet you with a smile when you arrive.

Chef John has worked in some of the top restaurants in the city, but he's devoted his talent to serving the University community, and in his spare time he volunteers at the MidOhio Foodbank. From top to bottom, the sustainability and accessibility of this restaurant are natural outgrowths of who the owners are: fundamentally decent human beings.

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