New Madison Restaurant Tackles Food Waste, Feeds The Hungry And Employs Veterans
Wisconsin Public Radio
By Elizabeth Dohms
Published: Friday, May 3, 2019
Little John’s will use food beyond its sell-by date from grocery stores around Madison, particularly Metcalfe’s Market. Heide pointed out that food oftentimes is edible for a month or more after its sell-by date but is tossed anyway because of confusion with the expiration date.Sprinkle in some ugly produce, employment opportunities for veterans and a touch of compassion, and that’s the recipe for chef and restaurateur Dave Heide’s new nonprofit restaurant, Little John’s, set to open in Madison this summer.
More than just nourishing the body, Heide hopes his restaurant on Madison’s west side will also feed his appetite for charity by meeting the needs of the hungry, curbing food waste and employing veterans.
Named for Heide’s third child, Little John’s is Heide’s third restaurant. Liliana’s in Fitchburg and Charlie’s on Main in Oregon are named for the couple’s other two children.
As a nonprofit, his newest venture features a pay-what-you-can model.
"If you have money, great. If you don’t have anything, don’t worry about it," he said, pointing out that the restaurant will have counter service, similar to a Chipotle or Subway. The menu will change daily depending on the food that’s available. Every day there will be seven or eight options such as salads, sandwiches and pastas to choose from.
Heide hopes that with any additional revenue he can take food carts to area food deserts to try and meet the needs of community members in those locations.
The restaurant’s payment model, with the goal of fighting hunger, is just one of the lofty issues Heide hopes to tackle. Another is food waste.
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