Now owner Aaron Gottlieb is doing what he can to assist local food producers and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He appeared on Monday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross to explain how, noting that it was something he thought about pre-coronavirus.
“Jacksonville, being a very spread out community, has a lot to offer, but not everybody can access it,” Gottlieb said. “And instead of trying to be something for everybody, I decided that our Beaches location, when I had the opportunity to reopen it, that what I should do is bring everything great about Jacksonville to one place.”
And that meant changing the store’s model up a bit, to one which is more focused on food being created in the community, rather than on food created in house.
“It started off with one ot two [restaurants],” explained Gottlieb, “but it ended up blossoming to when you come into Native Sun now and go to our food service, instead of just being focused on us, it's changed its focus to where you see 80% of our food selection from local area restaurants. Only 20% really is the foods that we're creating. So we have a chance to make our foods the best they've ever been, while we're highlighting great companies and really showcasing what the city needs to protect. These restaurants need to be here when COVID has settled down and we all start going back to a normal life.”
Native Sun’s current partners include:
- Bethesda Farm
- Community Loaves
- Fit Fab Foods
- House of Leaf & Bean
- Prati Italia
- Present Moment Cafe
- Shakti Life Kitchen
- Southern Roots Filling Station
- Sweet Theory Baking Co.
- Wainwright Dairy
The original Native Sun did carry a few of these brands, such as Shakti, which was one of the store’s top brands. Gottlieb said it’s exciting to see how well they are doing now, too, and to see the others following suit.
“These brands are really defining not just Native Sun, but the city and what the city has to offer,” said Gottlieb. “So it's just the beginning for us. We are looking to partner with high quality brands that focus on clean ingredients. And it's a real hustle. I mean, these brands don't have wholesale, a lot of them don't have a wholesale experience. Yeah. So it's up to us to learn and teach them how [it works].”
Heather Schatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @heatherschatz.