BACKSTAGE PASS: Rooted

While it’s relatively new on the region’s culinary scene, a Victoria Harbour business is already planting strong roots.

“Rooted has been making a very conscious effort to become a part of our community by organizing events, supporting charities and local families,” Rooted co-owner Jennifer Kelly explains.

A small family-owned business, Rooted began as an online entity just as the global pandemic took hold and found its way to Canada.

“We began online in March 2020 as a frozen and prepared meal service to the local area,” Kelly says.

Things shifted again for Kelly and her husband and business partner Frank Vatalaro just a few months after opening.

“Frank suffered a heart attack in June 2020,” Kelly explains. “We decided to seek a healthier way for him to live and work. He had been managing a bar with lots of late nights and unhealthy food.”

And there’s an extra benefit to starting their own busineses, according to Kelly, who is a registered nurse practitioner and very experienced home cook.

“Owning our own place makes it easier to surround him with healthy habits,” Kelly says.

And from those humble beginnings, Rooted Plant-Based Eating has quickly become a going concern and turned into a local favourite.

It now offers a plant-based café and market with gluten-free baked goods, plant-based groceries and continues to offer frozen meals.

“We offer unique, niche products,” Kelly says, noting their middle child Braydan Hartford also works at the café.

“We have dairy-free iced cappuccino, frozen lemonade and gelato. We also have specialty coffee drinks and a wide variety of teas.”

But it’s not just their own products and creations that Rooted offers the public.

“Our venue supports local makers and artisans from all around the region,” Kelly says. “We turn over the products with the season and we want to be a location that people like to anticipate what we have next!”

The couple note their family’s journey to plant-based eating has brought them to a world that includes some of the most interesting and flavourful foods they have ever eaten.

“Our journey started when our kids began exploring plant-based eating,” they explain.

“After reading and researching, we found that the health benefits were undeniable.

“It is pretty hard to deny that we all need to add more produce into our diets. We are excited to provide healthy options, no matter what your dietary preferences are!”

Reviews for what Rooted offers and the atmosphere Kelly and Vatalaro have created have been extremely positive.

“Great experience at Rooted!” one customer writes. “We were very excited to find an entirely plant-based restaurant with grocery options. The staff/owners are so friendly and helpful, and we really enjoyed the food.”

Adds another: “Rooted is amazing! 100% vegan and delicious. The owners and staff are super nice and work very hard to ensure great service.

“Highlights are definitely the lattes and cookies, breakfast sandwich, poutine and Mac and cheese. There is a great grocery selection as well and everything sold there is what they use in their kitchen. I can’t wait to go back!”

Visit their website at www.rootedmidland.ca