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Back to the Roots growing organically since opening last year

Jason Bendinelli, one of the owners, inside Back to the Roots.

There’s been an organic evolution taking place at Back to the Roots during its first year in business on Main Street.

With a staff of 17 full- and part-time employees, the combination restaurant and retail business continues its core mission to support fair trade and raise awareness of the human trafficking that is taking place around the world, but there’s been a shift in its sales focus.

one of the menus inside Back to the Roots

Located at 115 S. Main St., visitors can find blankets, clothing, cards, CD’s, salt lamps, jewelry and other items in the front of the store. They can relax in the comfy seating section in the center of the space, and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in the back of the store.

“We’re growing organically,” said Jason Bendinelli, one of the owners.

He said top-notch baristas and a seasoned chef have joined the staff along with a herbalist and nutritionist as the combination restaurant and retail store evolves.

There’s seating for about 60 people between the lounge area and the tables, and the restaurant is partnering with the Chelsea District Library and the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation‘s Five Healthy Communities during the current healthy eating awareness initiative.

“People will continue to see changes as things progress,” Bendinelli said, adding, “We’ve grown immensely since we opened.”

In fact, Back to the Roots has expanded its breakfast hours from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., and they’ve added an early bird special from 7-8 a.m., Monday-Friday, with all entrees priced at $5.

The restaurant serves gourmet specialty coffee and organic teas, vegan and vegetarian choices with local farm, organic and fresh ingredients from a 150-mile radius of the restaurant.

Plus, lunch and dinner include not just sandwich and sushi items, but also full entrees with specials on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays, sushi rolls are buy one, get one free.

Beautiful coffee drinks and desserts, soups and salads are also available.

Inside Back to the Roots.

There’s live music year-round on Thursdays, something that Bendinelli is passionate about. He plans jazz, bluegrass, R and B, soul musicians, and comedy might also be added in the future.

Fridays and Saturdays, open mic, spoken word poetry is also planned.

Last week, Back to the Roots hosted a meet-and-greet breakfast for Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce members — a chance for business owners to introduce themselves to each other and pitch what their businesses offer to the community.

Jason Bendinelli outside Back to the Roots.

There were 13 different businesses represented from the health and wellness fields to the theater, a zoo to a credit union, Web design and information technology assistance, books, a hotel, a marketing firm, and a new online news source for Chelsea.

Here’s who was there: Nia Aguirre, a new naturopathic doctor in town, Heidi Bennett from the Purple Rose Theatre Company, Ed Chappel, of On the Point Promotions, David Hardcastle of Kentaro Design, William Harris of Just Imagine Books, Jeff Morris of Call For Help Desk, Sudha Naraharisetti and Amanda Shark of Lake Trust Credit Union, Eric Tobin of Great Lakes Zoological Society, Tori Whelan of Comfort Inn, Matt Pegouske of the Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation, Bob Pierce and Susan Bauer of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce and Jason Povlich and Bendinelli of Jet’s Pizza and Back to the Roots and Lisa Allmendinger of Chelsea Update.

Stephanie Bland, one of the baristas.



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