Organic, vegetarian, vegan.
These are not the words that readily come to mind in America’s largest cattle-bred state, and yet against the backdrop of a former Alvin Ord’s, Jade and Hoot Barbee have managed to find a niche market within the Weatherford community at the vegan and vegetarian-centered Wholesome Organic Breakfast and Lunch to Go restaurant.
Having opened in November, Jade and Hoot credit their passion for food, religion and past experiences as addicts with helping them form a positive turning point in their lives.
“We both used to be addicts and we both lived on the streets. We both got our life cleaned up and health was super important with recovery from all of that, so it’s something I started to get into,” Jade said.
Wood-paneled walls and vinyl records dot the area, while groups of chopped up vegetables and fruit are being molded into full course meals inside the kitchen, Friday afternoon.
At lunchtime, the staff walk to and fro accommodating a hungry customer base.
“Owners and operators and managers and cooks and cleaners,” said Hoot during an interview in between the rush of customers. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“We’ve owned others companies and this is definitely the hardest,” Jade said.
There isn’t a template for niche restaurants, so a lot of logistics have to be figured out from scratch, Jade said.
“There’s not many platforms and concepts out there like us ... you’re dealing with fresh (food),” she said. “We just don’t go for the cheapest thing, everything is researched.”
Research and handling fresh as opposed to frozen food makes the task of running the restaurant difficult, but well worth it, Jade said.
“You’re researching everything from who the distributor is, what brand we’re supporting, where our honey is coming from, the benefits of it and so forth,” she said. “You don’t do a freezer, you’ve got to constantly be pulling out fresh. It’s hard.”
The research into their ingredients is pivotal, Jade said.
“All of us here are required to do research so we all study ... from the spice to the distributor, the manufacturing, to the farm, we go out and meet with them, the entire nine yards,” she said. “So we all report back once a week with something that we’ve learned and we really get to help our customers out, so that’s the best part.”
Serving healthy food is a constant learning process, Hoot said.
“Everything’s always evolving too. If you think you have it down, next week it will be different because you changed the menu item or you changed the way a previous menu item was made a little bit,” he said.
The menu items cover a variety of customers, from those who are curious to cancer patients with certain nutritional needs, Jade said.
“When we get customers where a family member is sick or a customer who is going through chemo, those with diabetes who want to change their lifestyles, their habits; when we really get to make a difference,” is Jade’s favorite part of serving customers.
The ingredient behind every recipe is passion, Jade said of her husband’s cooking skills.
“This man went into the kitchen with a whole bunch of fresh stuff, nothing like what he’d grown up with, whipped together dinners and the kids were like, ‘this is the best thing we’ve ever tasted.’ He had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t have a recipe book. It was from the heart. He cooks from the heart and is so passionate about it and loves it and you can taste it in the food.”
After seeing the positive effect eating healthy had on her family, sharing it with others is great, Jade said.
“It slowly began to come into our heart and here we are,” she said.
The restaurant, located at 914 S. Main St., is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.