“We’re just a bunch of very creative people putting together fresh ingredients that we enjoy,” says Anthony Papageorgiou, owner of Living Green Fresh Market in Oakland Park, Florida, which opened in December 2012. “This store provides the opportunity to merge different experiences and passions into one. I bring wholesale produce experience, woodwork and construction knowledge I learned from my dad as a kid, a personal interest in healthy food and a passion for creating.” This ethos seeps into every corner of Living Green Fresh Market, including:
Creative menus. Every item on the café menu is hand-prepared fresh in-house every day. About 10 percent of the menu is seasonal and changes throughout the year. Without a formal culinary background, Papageorgiou created the menu by trial and error, basing it around color, taste and texture. “When you play with these variables and combine all the ingredients found in the store, the possibilities are endless,” he says.
Regional and seasonal produce. Living Green stocks local produce whenever possible, but Papageorgiou says season and weather sometimes make this tricky. However, the store always aims to source the safest, highest quality fruits, veggies and herbs. “We stay away from certain items such as Chinese garlic and try to get garlic from an alternative source such as California,” he says. “It’s a little more expensive, but our customers appreciate it and we can sleep well at night.”
Growing and adapting are central components of Living Green’s business plan. Staff message boards and suggestion pads located throughout the store allow the leadership team to constantly gather feedback from employees and shoppers in order to make improvements, whether it’s increasing organic offerings or installing a soup island. Papageorgiou says he can usually get an idea up and running within 24 hours.