Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group is reaching goals in year 7 of its 10 year business plan. During an on-location edition of Sound Ideas at Epiphany on Main, co-owner, founder, chef and farmer Stu Hummel said there was never any question of failure when the farm to fork enterprise was started.
"It wasn't ever an option, there was so much as stake," said Hummel. "Whatever it takes, we're going to make it happen."
Hummel said while a high percentage of new restaurants fail, Epiphany's restaurants won't be part of the statistic. Hummel, along with co-owner, founder, and chef Ken Myzska and wife Nanam, also a co-owner and founder, have a created a two restaurant, two farm mini-empire from the ground up. On Thursday, the group opens its newest venture, the Old Bank Restaurant and Bar in LeRoy. The group also recently opened a new bakery-event space, Epiphany on Main at 513 N. Main in Downtown Bloomington.
All of the restaurants are supplied with food grown or raised at the hospitality group's farms and depending upon the season patrons can expect dishes that are comprised of food nearly all harvested locally.
"We have dishes that are so farm-forward, less the salt or maybe a little seasoning of olive oil on the plate, it's 99.9 percent right off the farm," said Hummel
The group is also working to blend farming and restaurants into one "one, self-sustaining organism."
"It's connecting the dots. It's the full circle of harvest to distribution. What comes in the back door gets fabricated at the restaurant," said Hummel.
When asked if customers care that the food is "beyond organic" and grown locally and prepared to high standards, Hummel said "yes, after they're educated."
Ken Myzska disagreed slightly. He said customers don't care as much as he'd like them to care.
"I think we focus on disguising the fact that we're as connected or as sustainable as we are," said Myzska. "We don't want it to be in their face. We don't want to come off as pretentious. It's important for us to make sure they feel like this is a neighborhood restaurant that they can enjoy on a daily basis. It's really hurt us that people think it's really special."
"It's a lifestyle. We live it. I don't feel like we work on a day to day basis. This is how we function. It doesn't have to be a setting where they're dropped off at the farm or they have to be in a place like this where there's an audience with a panel, " said Hummel. "Everyday conversations that we have with people we have the opportunity to educate. There are 2,000 guests on weekly basis that come in to the restaurants, people who come to the farm. It's just us being transparent about how we feel systems need to be and educating people on a day to day basis through every interaction and conversation."
Epiphany's newest restaurant, The Old Bank Bar and Restaurant in LeRoy opens on Thursday evening.
Take a visual tour with Colleen.