Quad Cites Food Hub

Face of a Food Champion: Ed Kraklio

Ed Kraklio, operator of Nostalgia Farm and Fresh Deli in Davenport, has a vision for the food system that is much bigger than just his farm and restaurant. He believes in partnerships, saying, “It’s a misconception that a lot of people have, that one farm can handle it all… you can’t.”

man with bag of cherries
Farmer and restauranteur Ed Kraklio is ready to weigh a bag of Nostalgia Farm cherries in the retail portion of Fresh Deli. Photo contributed by Ed Kraklio.

He and his partner Joe Dennis began Nostalgia Farm in 1996, cultivating a variety of berries, apples, cherries and other fruits. They expanded into baking, quit their off-farm jobs, and added vegetables, poultry and lambs to their production. In 2012, they opened Fresh Deli together, which makes everything in-house, from breads to sauces to soda. Kraklio explains, “We freeze, can and dry to preserve food ourselves for the winter so we don’t run out.”

The restaurant opened as a direct result of participating in the Quad Cities Food Hub. Kraklio was on the Food Hub’s startup committee, and found through their searches that “there was […] a calling for a local foods restaurant.” Fresh Deli uses food from Nostalgia Farm, as well as other local producers. Smaller producers who are unable to supply to the restaurant regularly are featured in the retail area at the front of the store or during special events. “We promote their product,” he explains. “It’s all about working together as a community when it comes to farming.”

Kraklio’s work has always involved partnerships with growers and consumers. He worked to unify two farmers markets in Davenport to create the year-long Freight House Farmers Market, with 150 to 185 vendors on peak market days. Fresh Deli and Nostalgia Farm employ between eight and 15 people, depending on the season, and also indirectly impact other businesses.

Kraklio estimates between five and 10 jobs may have been created by his vendors. Fresh Deli is already meeting the goals the Quad Cities Food Hub set out for it, but Kraklio wants to take the concept further. “Now we’re training the right people in our kitchens and up front so Joe and I can go to another location and redevelop in another area to expand what we’re doing. We want the deli to live on beyond what we are.”

Face of a Food Champion: Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers

Ross’ Restaurant has served local food in Bettendorf since 1938. The current manager, Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers, credits her grandfather, the restaurant founder, with setting the precedent: “I call him the original localist […] he got it early on.”

Freidhof-Rodgers has expanded the use of local food in the restaurant, particularly in the last five years. She calls local foods a personal passion, “the triple win—it’s healthier, tastes better, and it’s better for the local economy.”

Today the restaurant’s local foods include natural bacon and sausage, free-range bison and chicken, organic eggs and seasonal vegetables. Even the New Orleans bread pudding contains local bourbon, “from a distillery that opened in Le Claire,” she explains.

Freidhof-Rodgers is aware of her restaurant’s impact on local farms. They use thousands of pounds of tomatoes in the summer, and can go through 5,000 eggs a week. She says, “Because of our [demand for] eggs one farmer was able to get into farming fulltime. He had been in a manufacturing job.”

She appreciates having a personal connection with her suppliers, explaining that, “being a family business, it means a lot to work with suppliers that are also families. I feel good about the product and the relationships.”

Farmers stop by to offer her products, but Freidhof-Rodgers also uses the Quad Cities Food Hub to find food resources. She says it is easier to access local foods than it was in the past. For instance, she had tried to find a local egg supplier in the past, and until recently was not able to get the quantity she needed. “Now we’re able to find that. If I need six cases of 30 dozen, I can find that.”

Freidhof-Rodgers shops at the Food Hub store and calls when she needs to find a specific product through their network. She expects that as the Food Hub develops further it will help her and other restaurants, and even schools, access local food. It would also help customers. She says, “I’m excited about getting a virtual market online. It will show you who has a product and how to contact them.”

About these stories

These stories were produced to accompany a report documenting the impact of the local food industry on Iowa’s economy associated with the efforts of the Regional Food Systems Working Group. Consult the statewide report: 2012 Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group.

For more information on the local foods work occurring in the Quad Cities region, visit the Quad Cities Food Hub website.