The people I admire most in this world are people with a strong point of view. These people are often called â€œcreative typesâ€. Which should be the ultimate compliment. But I have often noticed that there are some people who use the term in a semi-derogatory way. Of course itâ€™s the verbal quotation marks that transform the phrase from itâ€™s literal into a mass-market form of name-calling.
Creative types are not the only folks who have gotten formerly positive descriptors turned into a mean-spirited stereotype.
Remember when â€œliberalâ€ meant to give freely or generously. Donâ€™t get me started on the term â€œprogressiveâ€. How has progress gotten manipulated into a dirty word?
I bring this up because I was recently in the company of some wonderfully talented creative types bringing progress to the Los Angeles consumer.
Because I attended the opening of a new shop in town this past Friday. Actually itâ€™s a new kind of shop. Itâ€™s called Studio Root66, which is a rather creative play on its location. Because historic Route 66, running through Highland Park, is where this store is located.
And this is some kind of special shop, because the folks behind it understand that communities are formed when people, products and businesses come together. This store reflects that idea very well.
The opening was a lot of fun too. I was very impressed with what I saw.
“We are very excited to finally open our doors!â€ said owner, Hillary Danner adding, â€œItâ€˜s taken a year, but it certainly has been a labor of loveâ€.
Raised in a family of practicing environmentalists, including her Aunt Blythe (yep, Danner), she was taught the importance of recycling. The underlying theme of Studio Root66 will be one that favors and supports the environment. From the eco-conscious renovation, of the rented retail space, to the products that will be exhibitedâ€”Hillary aims to create a unique retail destination, showcasing an awesome variety of artistic talent, local and otherwise.
The opening of this innovative store caught my attention because they feature a line of jams, jellies and sauces called Jenkins Jellies.
Jenkins Jellies are important because they represent so much about the philosophy behind Studio Root66. At the core of this philosophy is a belief that providing local products to the community where they were produced has much less impact on the environment, and can be a source of local pride.
Thatâ€™s because Hillary grows the fruits and vegetables used in her condiments right in her own back yard. Her 3/4‑acre hillside â€œfarmâ€ has been producing organic fruits and vegetables for years, and has kept her family and friends well fed. Which is really a mind-boggling accomplishment, because if you are familiar with LA then you must realize Urban Farms are few and far between here.
Jenkins Jellies seems like a natural step forward in bringing some of this bounty to the community. Top sellers include: Fig Preserves, Concorde Grape Jelly, Jalapeno Pepper Jelly, Orange Marmalade, Apple Plum Butter and Organic Sugar-Free Apple Sauce. A portion of the proceeds is donated to the Bruce Paltrow Oral Cancer Fund, as well as the Environmental Media Association. Further proof of this project’s commitment to the community.
But the forward thinking concept behind Studio Root66 is far more progressive than merely one gallery-style space for interesting and environmentally friendly locally produced products. Because itâ€™s really a co-op of establishments operating under a unified concept.
Because with in the same building there is another store; a video gaming retailer called Gamer Doc. Which Danner’s husband, Jason Renfro, opened exactly one-year ago. Both stores are adjacent to the community’s local fire department, in a location that the couple specifically sought out in Highland Park to cater to the local community. The couple renovated the historic space utilizing recycled building materials and converted the whole building to solar-power.
Thatâ€™s right. I said solar-power. Which is really quite amazing considering the number of electronic video screens that Gamer Doc has running all day long. But this is â€œsunnyâ€ LA and the energy-wise solution seems to be working quite nicely. Renfro gave me the backroom tour, where his solar-babies do their converting.
Although, the system was expensive and dealing with the bureaucracy of the City of Los Angeles was a chore, Renfro predicts that the system will pay for itself in energy savings with in 6 years. After that, itâ€™s nothing but free electricity for the entire building.
There are also plans for a small restaurant featuring simple, but locally sustainable food. Soon breads for paninis and possibly gourmet pizzas may be brought forth from solar-powered electric ovens that Renfro is researching. Like the rest of the complex, the restaurant will be geared towards serving and benefiting the local community. Its sunny back patio will offer a quiet place to meet with friends and could even serve as an office away from office for at least one hungry food blogger!
I can just smell the bounty coming out of those ovens now. And it smells a lot like progress!
And just so you know. I was not paid to provide these words. I am a part of the Los Angeles community myself, and I believe this creative couple is bringing positive progress to a historic section of Los Angeles. I wanted to support my community, my city and my future by encouraging their success.
But, I did not walk away from the party completely empty handed. Nope, I got a jar of Jenkins Jellies Organic Sugar-Free Apple Sauce. Itâ€™s very tempting to just unscrew that lid and dig into this treasure. But, you know me; I have bigger plans for this Jenkins Jelly jar. So tune in tomorrow and see what I do with a little bit of locally produced creative inspiration. I promise you a liberal dose of delicious!
5917 North Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA
SERIOUSÂ FUNÂ FOOD