‘Travel with Food’ with Community Inspired Meal Kits Made in Grass Lake Cafe

GRASS LAKE, MI – A community culture-focused Grass Lake business has used the coronavirus pandemic to showcase locally grown foods in international-style meals.

Owner Britt Keene launched Roaming Goat Cafe in 2016 as a coffee and community space, which she said she yearned for when she moved to Grass Lake from Ypsilanti.

“I haven’t really found a sense of community for myself,” Keene said. “I kept walking past this shabby little building and one day I told my husband I thought we should open a cafe.”

The cafe at 115 S. Lake St. celebrated its fourth anniversary on the first weekend in October.

The cafe closed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced stay-at-home orders statewide, in part because foot traffic was down, but more to protect the health of employees, Keene said. Conversations between Keene and her “co-caffeinator” or store manager MaryJane Marshall quickly turned to the next steps to keep their business running.

It didn’t take long for them to come up with community-supported farm meal kits.

Described as “CSA meets Hello Fresh”, Roaming Goat brings together pre-measured ingredients with a recipe to prepare a unique meal on Friday or Saturday. The boxes range from $ 35 to $ 50, depending on the meal. The kits are meant to “gracefully” feed four people with leftovers, as Keene said a recent test meal fed seven adults.

The idea came to Keene, who previously ran a CSA in Ypsilanti, as a way to inspire travel when most people were confined to their homes. She identified 12 countries and found recipes in their kitchens.

“A lot of my life is traveling – hence roaming in Roaming Goat – so we decided to travel with food,” Keene said.

The Field to Kitchen Meal Kit is now an integral part of the Roaming Goat business model. Keene said they make about 20 boxes a week, but hope to expand the program to 50 a week.

Recent recipes include Polish cabbage rolls, harissa plate flour, and Korean barbecue rolls. Boxes can be pre-ordered online under “kitchen field kits”. This week’s meal is a pan-fried Creole fusion.

Like other Roaming Goat products, most of the products in the meal kits come from farms within 200 miles of the cafe. The company has always focused on 90 cents of every dollar pumped back into the local economy through the supply chain, Keene said. Therefore, buying meal kits was not much different from buying food for the cafe.

“It has been the backbone of our business since we opened, supporting local entities and small businesses, especially women-owned businesses,” she said. “It’s something that both of us are passionate about.”

Roaming Goat is open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. It is closed Sunday and Monday.

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