Supporting our community’s food economy has always been the foundation and heart of Novo Restaurant. That means not only do we plate the highest quality farm-fresh ingredients, but we are helping to sustain local food growers and purveyors. Without these efforts from the community at large farmers’ markets would dwindle and local farms would find it harder and harder to thrive. Thanks to Slow Money SLO further efforts are hard at work to support our region’s food scene.
Founder Jeff Wade began Slow Money SLO in 2012, inspired by author Woody Tasch (Slow Money: investing as if food, farms and fertility matter). They provide coaching, networking and support for small, local food and farm businesses. Slow Money SLO is also a connector and facilitator of peer-to-peer lending. Small business lending is risky, but there are many benefits beyond the financial return and higher risk is often something folks are willing to endure for the greater rewards. These include, knowing where your money is invested; the satisfaction of buying a local product that you helped to support; introducing friends to a local product that you have supported and seeing their business grow; also the enjoyment of seeing the excitement of a food entrepreneur as they see their vision come to fruition.
On December 1st manager AJ Fewell celebrated his two-year anniversary at Novo Restaurant and as a SLO resident! Originally born and raised in Cape May, New Jersey, AJ always loved California for it’s great weather, beautiful terrain and coastal features. When he had the opportunity to move west he jumped on it and never looked back. He says moving to SLO was the best decision and every step of the way his transition has been graced with ease and lots of luck.
AJ has always worked in the service industry. He got his start as a dishwasher at fourteen years old and quickly worked his way up to serving. He affectionately recounts being groomed by inspiring managers who took the opportunity to not just tell him how to do his job, but gave him a rich education in food & beverage pairings, spirits and the elements of genuine customer service. His career expanded into bartending, managing and eventually fine-dining. He moved to Philadelphia to work at a fine dining establishment called R2L, on the 37th floor of a downtown high rise. The servers wore tuxedos and white gloves when polishing the stemware. Along the way he picked up and resonated with the (Four Seasons) slogan, “We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.”
AJ shines in the arena of customer service and loves teaching and coaching his staff whenever possible. His management style reflects the past training he received, as he desires to guide servers rather than discipline. He encourages mindfulness in how we speak to our guests, being personable, smiling and taking the utmost care to ensure the contentment of Novo guests. AJ certainly has that special spark that is infectious among staff and guests alike!
When not at Novo you will most likely find AJ immersed in his other passion, yoga, and biking, hiking or soaking up the sun on a coastal beach. He says he feels lucky to have found a home in SLO with Novo and an amazingly supportive community of friends that share so many of his joys and passions. #NowYouNovo
Autumn is here! While it might not always feel like autumn on the central coast, you can still cool off with a Pumpkin Spice Float in our wonderful lounge or out on the creekside patio. Combining fall flavors with Crown Royal blended whiskey and Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice Irish Cream creates a Fall delicacy sure to delight your taste buds. Topped off with Hank’s Gourmet Root Beer, this libation harks back to the soda fountain favorites of yesterday while showing off the oh-so-popular trends of today.
1 oz Crown Royal
1.5 oz Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice Irish Cream
.5 oz Vanilla Puree
1 bottle Hank’s Gourmet Root Beer
Combine Crown Royal, Bailey’s and Vanilla Puree with ice in shaker. Shake well and pour into Collins Glass. Fill generously with Hank’s Gourmet Root Beer and enjoy!
Ian Holland, Novo’s Kitchen Manager, grew up in Atascadero and moved to San Luis Obispo during high school. He quickly fell in love with cooking while working at various establishments, such as Firestone Grill and Big Sky Cafe. Though his appreciation for good cooking was established in his early years by watching his grandparents cook for the family. Ian’s grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman and his grandmother turn wild game and seafood into incredible meals.
Ian was working at Big Sky when Novo first opened in 2003. He fell in love with “Mr. Robin’s” attention to detail and passion for quality ingredients. Soon after he came onboard as a nighttime sauté cook. Ian was with Novo for many years before pursuing other opportunities for a time. In February 2016, he returned to the team with more enthusiasm than ever. He learned everyone was their own way of doing things but he says “Mr. Robin” just does it better. Additionally, Ian enjoys working with Chef Ben and says, “Chef Ben is extremely professional in his approach but also compassionate and hands-on with his crew.”
If he had to pick a favorite, Ian finds a lot of enjoyment and excitement in cooking Latin cuisine. As a young man he fondly remembers spending time with family friends in Oaxaca, Mexico and learning that style of cooking. He has adventurously explored cuisine styles of different regions in Mexico and even central and southern parts of the US.
When not on the Novo line, Ian enjoys hiking and road biking on the various trails of the Central Coast with his dog and girlfriend. #nowyounovo
The Pepper Creek Family Farm has been a fixture in the rural farming community of Arroyo Grande for over 25 years. Their grandfather, Jack VanOtterloo, found the property when it was used for raising grass-fed cattle. In 1990 his daughter in-law, Diane Boyd, transitioned the land from cattle to produce after the recession caused her husband, Mike Boyd, to lose his job as a mason. Thus began the family farm. In 2006 their daughter, Jessica Newell, joined the business full time, followed by her brothers, Eric and Morgan Boyd, in 2014 after the men were discharged from their military careers.
Eric and Morgan Boyd found great comfort in the family farm during their transitions back to civilian life. During this time Morgan attended Cal Poly to get his masters degree in public policy, focusing on sustainable agriculture policy and veterans affairs. His brother Eric received a degree in soil science and attended a program in San Diego called Archie’s Acres (www.archisacres.com). The program, which is highly focused on supporting military service members and veterans, provides training to those interested in learning more about the production and business behind sustainable agriculture. This provided Eric extensive training in hydro-organic technology and organic greenhouse operations.
Today each family member plays a vital role in operating and growing the family farm. Diane Boyd has been a fixture in the local farmers’ market seen for the last 20 years and is currently Farmers’ Market Association Manager. Morgan is in charge of Pepper Creek production and grows on about 8 acres of the land. Jessica, “the face of the farm,” is in charge of marketing, harvesting (she harvests right before market to ensure freshness and a true farm-to-table experience), as well as, distribution. There is no need for cold storage since on this farm! Eric built the farm’s long tunnel hydroponics system, which when fully operational, produces 1,500 pounds of leafy vegetables per week. Along with the large production capabilities, the family says it’s a major step towards operating a regenerative farm. The hydroponics system can save up to 90% of water usage (depending on the time of year), saves four times the space and is capable of having 5-6 crops cycles per year. This allows them to pull less from their shared aquifer and provides an opportunity to sell to larger customers, such as a store like Whole Foods Market.
From its inception the farm has always been transparent in their organic and sustainable farming practices. They use zero pesticides, no GMOs, and operate on a drip irrigation system. Occasionally they resort to natural methods of spaying chrysanthemum oil and releasing lady bugs to battle aphids. This season they are tolerating a higher-than-average gopher problem, which they recognize as a mere side effect to operating a truly organic farm.
So what is the family growing these days? Early Girl tomatoes (and many other varieties), corn, green leafy vegetables, avocados, pomegranates, apples, apricots, zucchini, beans, grapes, onions, garlic, various varieties of peppers, Persian mulberries, boysenberries, carrots, beets, leeks, potatoes, lemons, guavas, …and well, it goes on and on. As Jessica puts it, “pretty much anything that grows in California with the exception of just a few things.”
Today the farm is busier than ever with many exciting plans in the works. Morgan has been developing a program through Cal Poly, called FEED: Farmer Experiential & Education Development. It’s a 12-week certificate program that trains veterans and under-served members of the community on sustainable agriculture. Heavily business focused, the program will train students in creating business plans and farm plans in three primary areas of sustainable agriculture: protected systems (hydroponics, high tunnels), conventional row cropping and orchards, and free range farming & permaculture design. Morgan is the program director and this summer will be finalizing the curriculum with help from the College of Agriculture, Center for Sustainability and the Department of Extended Education. Students will receive morning classroom instruction with afternoon hands-on experience at the Pepper Creek family farm. With extra hands on the farm the goal for the next year will be to incorporate permaculture design principles, nudging the farm closer to being much more efficient and regenerative.
In addition to selling at many of the Farmer’s Markets in San Luis Obispo County, the farm also distributes directly to local restaurants. Pepper Creek products can be found on plates at Novo Restaurant, Luna Red, Robin’s Restaurant, Thomas Hill Organics, Ember, Artisan, The Spoon Trade, Foremost, Marisol, Lido and more.
You can find Pepper Creek Family Farm almost every day of the week at one of our local farmers’ markets. Tuesday at the SLO grange, Wednesday morning in Arroyo Grande, Thursday in Morro Bay and in downtown SLO in the evening and on Saturday in the Village of Arroyo Grande and Templeton.
Chris Acord first got his start behind the bar 14 years ago while working at a restaurant & bar in Visalia, Mr. Gables, after the previous bartender walked out during his shift. His manager asked if Chris could take over and it was a natural fit for his personality and interests. Community is an important word in Chris’s world. Whether he’s participating in community theater, building a life SLO (a community he never wants to leave) or tending bar and working in the service industry, it’s important to Chris that he is giving back to his community.
Chris most enjoys making cocktails when a guest can tell him what they like and he can spontaneously craft a unique drink just for them. And when it’s the “best drink they’ve ever tasted”….well, that’s instant gratification. Chris never considered bartending as a career until a time in his life when he realized he really enjoyed it, he was good at it and had acquired great knowledge of wine and spirits. He likes working at Novo as he sees the bar and kitchen starting to become more holistic in their cross-utilization of products. His experience working in a high-volume restaurant serves him well and he enjoys the sense of family and community among staff and patrons.
In his free time Chris enjoys spending time with his girlfriend and 8 year-old daughter, who he boasts is becoming tri-lingual and has recently acquired her second belt in Kung Fu. He is also a self-professed cinephile and Sci-Fi aficionado. This Father’s Day, Chris plans to spend the day away from his Novo family to go camping with his daughter.