Central Product Consultant Michael Sandlin sits down and laughs as he recalls the last half hour he spent on the phone with his customer, Luke Patterson. Nothing in particular, it’s just always an intriguing conversation. Patterson, 33, has an adventurous personality and is well on his way to a very successful future in the foodservice industry.
“He’s an eclectic, fusion kind of guy,” Sandlin said, who has been working with Patterson since 2009.
There’s always something going on and he always has an interesting story to tell. But what is the most interesting is how this young restaurant owner got his start—and how successful he is.
Prior to opening the restaurant Luke’s Joint in Arcata, Calif., Patterson, who had been working in the restaurant industry for years (with a start in New York City), started running his own business by renting a food cart from a local church. He had the food cart in a popular Arcata plaza for nine months, then saw an opportunity for a restaurant.
“I’m sitting there watching Grandma B’s Chocolate Shop pack up and leave and it wasn’t much of a leap of imagination,” he recalled. “It was already taken by the time I made the call, but coincidentally their insurance didn’t come through and I was offered the opportunity to move in and haven’t looked back.”
Patterson opened Luke’s Joint last year, which is located at 887 H Street. They serve coffee and pastries from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to their Facebook page. They are open seven days a week, which is uncommon for that area.
“I’m from NYC, so I have a metropolitan point of view,” he said.
So as they are open during times many places aren’t, it creates more opportunities for both them and their customers and in general is just a great place to visit. Luke’s Joint is reasonably priced too with a variety of interesting and unique menu items.
Elena Agostinis wrote a review on Urbanspoon that provides a great description of this out of the box restaurant:
“Chef Luke at Luke’s Joint puts together flavors like no-one else, with sublime results. His food is delicious, flavored with unusual combinations to startle and delight your taste buds – all for very affordable prices. Watch this guy – he’s going to be really, really famous!”
Funny, Sandlin said something similar.
“Mark my words, he’ll be famous someday.”
Luke’s Joint is also a proud server of Kinetic Koffee, a gourmet micro roaster in Arcata who specializes in “super-premium, certified organic coffees from around the world.” They also mention “each of our roasts is custom designed with distinctive profiles.”
When making purchases for equipment, Patterson stays with Central, which was something Sandlin hadn’t expected right away. After all, when Patterson first came to us, it was only for squeeze bottles for his barbeque sauce.
For some reason, Sandlin said he just stuck with Patterson. Perhaps it was Patterson’s vibrant personality or the fact that he is just so interesting to talk to. Now, tables have turned and Patterson does smaller orders like squeeze bottles locally but chooses Central for his larger orders.
Speaking of local, local is the center of everything Patterson does. All purchases and decisions are made from a local standpoint from the food to the landscaping.
“Even ordering through you guys, if I can’t install it, I’ll have someone local install.”
And while many restaurants are still trying to find their way through the economic downturn, Patterson’s business has been successful enough that he is not only opening up another restaurant, but just recently opened another food cart as well.
On September 11, he will be opening “The Other Place,” which he described as a high end fine dining restaurant, located at 660 K Street in Arcata, just blocks away from the plaza.
“With The Other Place, I’m shooting for the stars,” he said with excitement in his voice. “I’m a pretty humble guy but we’re shooting for the stars with that place. Trying things no one has tried. It’s adventurous and daring.”
Then Patterson has brought everything full circle by opening a food cart, called “The Other Cart, Reincartnated MMXI” (2011), which debuted on Saturday July 23. It will mostly cater to vegans and vegetarians at an excellent price point and will both use and feature products from local farmers. They will sell salads and other items such as quinoa, kus kus, etc., and will charge by the ounce— $2 per ounce.
“I’m really thrilled of the potential of having this complete offering, price wise,” Patterson says.
Jada Brotman of Arcata, who recently opened her own food cart called “Queen Doubles” is inspired by Patterson’s passion and determination to provide great local food.
“He’s committed to the community and local foods. He’s a real asset to our community, but he’s helped change the local food scene for the better,” she said. “We take everything for granted; local grains, meat, etc.”
Brotman reflected on the point many restaurants use other companies states away to obtain their food. She said for Patterson, he uses farmers that aren’t too far away which have better food and don’t charge as much.
“In other places, after the green revolution in the 70’s when foods were mass produced and cheaper, people got used to the idea to buy from foreign counties, but there are a lot of amazing farmers in our own states,” she added.
Brotman also said Patterson has been a mentor and inspiration to her.
“I’ve always been into local, but his absolute commitment has helped me make personal sacrifices and changes in both business and personal.”
For more information about Luke’s Joint, visit their Facebook page.