By Kevin Collison
Howard’s has gained a tasty reputation for its healthy cafe menu since opening in the Crossroads in September 2015, and now is expanding to become a downtown neighborhood source for groceries and homegrown produce too.
Craig Howard opened his all-things-food place at 1708 Oak St. after the building housing his previous grocery business in the Hospital Hill area was purchased.
Since then, he’s concentrated on using locally-sourced food to operate his cafe Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We want it to be beneficial for the local farmers, the customers and for us,” he said. “We try to use as much local stuff as possible and be as healthy as we can. We sell burgers, but their grass fed and local.
“We have a big range of customers. We have a loyal crowd, people who work downtown, walk-ins and hardcore local food people.”
A new liquor license also recently allowed him to launch a Happy Hour featuring beer, wine or a specialty cocktail from 5- 7 p.m. with healthy appetizers to accompany it.
Howard also operates a catery business and is now gearing up to offer a grocery selection that will include enough kitchen staples for preparing a meal.
“The main focus will be vegetables, but well have good local meat, farm eggs and cheese,” he said.
And some of those vegetables will be grown right on premise. He has three large plant beds already underway with more planned for the roof top. A greenhouse also is planned. The plan calls for 10 different vegetables to be grown there including kale, broccoli, eggplant and herbs.
Howard also plans to offer frozen veggie burgers, house-made mayo and pickles.
The cafe, however, will remain the social hub of his place.
“I like having the cafe,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to have conversations about food.”