Everything has its microcosm. While jet-setting heads of state bring nuclear nonproliferation and the possibility of new nuclear power plants to the
, Santa Fe’s Atomic Grill is experiencing a fission-fueled rebirth of its own.
Long the king of late-night downtown dining, the Atomic nowcaptures those who rise with the crack of the atom by serving breakfast starting at 7 am every damn day.
Newish chef Davasha Staralow is cranking out specials as if a run-of-the-mill menu might lead to a nuclear meltdown. A three-cheese tomato and avocado sandwich ($7.95) I had recently gave me the strength to finish typing this column and then some. Plus, the Atomic is a dirty bomb of beer with (allegedly) more than 100 kinds of suds on hand.
Speaking of beer, Green Drinks, the local organization that’s smart enough to know that (adult) education and networking go better with drinking, hosts a special Earth Day event (see cover story, page 12, for more Earth Day events) featuring business dude, green guy and author Scott Cooney. Cooney’s new book, Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur, delves into both wholesale and food businesses in this new era of severely mashable nouns.
Cooney ain’t exactly riding the edge of innovation with his modest suggestions—organic coffee, smoothies, raw food, organic pizza, etc.—but his book serves as a decent enough primer for people looking to start small, local businesses as (ojalá) we climb out of recession.
Cooney isn’t passing out detailed business plans. His suggestions include bare-bones overviews and quick examples of successes in similar veins. Some even sound a bit odd, like a “sustainable buffet-style restaurant.” I mean, who wants a hippy version of Furr’s Family Dining? But he points out that going buffet might reduce the shock of introducing customers to seasonally rotated ingredients, and many of his suggestions have within them at least a tiny pearl of unconventional wisdom.
Word on the (digital) street is that Cooney is a more engaging speaker than most, so the $15-$20 entry fee is worth it. Plus, entry comes with Rio Chama snacks made with all-local goodies. Drinks, you’ll have to pay for—it’s simple ethonomics…or ecopreneurialism…or whatever the hell the kids are calling it these days.
In other news, related to nuclear policy only by a certain level of ridiculous idiocy, the purchasing director of an Albuquerque- and Santa Fe-based eatery that uses a lot of local, fresh ingredients was given some stern advice at a recent state-sanctioned ServSafe training for food-service managers and food buyers. Apparently, the class was advised not to purchase produce from local growers or farmers markets because of concerns about “unclean water.”
ServSafe courses are conducted by the New Mexico Restaurant Association. NMRA Development Director Victoria Martinez quickly shifted from helpful official to defensive bureaucrat when asked if such a policy was being pushed in ServSafe courses.
“I don’t have authority to speak on behalf of the association,” Martinez says. “All I can tell you is we follow the FDA’s model Food Code that says purchasing must be done from approved, reputable suppliers.”
Martinez declined to describe what constitutes “approved” or “reputable,” or to verify concerns about water quality.
National ServSave representatives did not return calls by press time.
If there are legitimate water quality concerns in New Mexico, many people would obviously like to know. After all, we’re all pretty well-versed with the legitimate water quality concerns of reputable—and presumably approved—factory produce farms located adjacent to cesspools and “lagoons” of animal feces.
And if NMRA officials are discouraging the purchase of local food, a lot of us would like to know about that, too. Because that would raise some nuclear anger.
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