Garden-to-table in East Price Hill

Under the influence of community-driven efforts, the East Price Hill building on the corner of Enright and West Eighth is nothing like what it was four years ago.

 


When Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage took over the building, it was a shady corner lounge replete with illicit activity.

 


The nonprofit moved in and cleaned it up, with the goal of creating a safe gathering place for the neighborhood. What resulted was Common Roots Pub, a neighborhood bar and music venue run entirely by volunteers.

 


Given its place at the center of Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage — an intentional community that champions local food growing and sustainable living — Common Roots Pub has seen its fair share of potluck gatherings. But zoning restrictions and financial constraints have forced the venue to evolve its model.

 


Over the past few months, the pub has been renovating and adding a kitchen — slated to open in early November—which will feature a chef-driven seasonal menu with ingredients sourced directly from the surrounding community.

 


“In tomato season you’ll be able to get a BLT with tomatoes grown right there,” says community member Scott Edsall, motioning toward the greenhouse three doors down. “We can change with whatever they’re growing.”

 


Edsall and his wife Blair will be crafting sandwiches and soups based on what is available on a neighborhood scale. The ever-changing menu will be primarily vegetarian, which Edsall admits is a far cry from where his food journey first began.

 


“I grew up in central Illinois, and my parents opened a meat processing plant where we did deer — 300,000 pounds of venison a year — and made twenty different kinds of sausage and venison bacon.”

 


After college, Edsall ended up in East Nashville, working as prep cook and then kitchen manager at Mitchell Deli, arguably the best sandwich shop in town. When the deli opened its sister restaurant, Rudies Seafood & Sausage, he headed the opening team as general manager.

 


Much like Mitchell Deli, the new eatery revolved around seasonal ingredients sourced directly from farms and fishermen. It became well established, but the surrounding area was changing too drastically for Edsall to stay.

 


“It was getting ultra-gentrified and the neighborhood was leaving it,” he recalls. “Nashville was blowing up to the point that it was really expensive to live.”

 


So he moved to Cincinnati, where he currently manages the kitchen at Lucius Q, a barbecue joint in the Pendleton neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Taco Tuesday at Lucius Q, you have Edsall to thank.

 


“He’s the guy that comes up with the new taco every week,” says coworker Nick Mitchell. “And they’re always just flying off the shelf.”

 


Mitchell is joining Edsall at Common Roots to help manage the bar and events, which he says will be mostly a continuation of what was happening before. There will be an open mic/open jam on Thursdays and live bands playing on Fridays and Saturdays.

 


The kitchen will initially be open 4–10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and aims to expand quickly to Wednesdays and Sunday brunch.

 


With Edsall at the helm, Common Roots envisions running a sustainable kitchen with minimal waste. This means preserving and pickling produce from the summer months. It also means getting creative.

 


And while the pub hopes to attract people from all over the city, it remains focused on the surrounding community.

 


“We’re not here to blow out the water. We’re here to serve sandwiches and homemade food that everyone in this neighborhood can enjoy without spending $15 on a plate,” Edsall says. “It’s rad we get to work with the community to provide food for the community.”

 

Read more articles by Sarah Dupee.

Sarah Dupee is a freelance writer, teacher, translator, and musician with a background in French and Francophone Studies.
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