1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful
2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish
February was coming to a close, and the sun was shining for what felt like the first time in weeks. It was about 5:30 in downtown Marietta when I arrived at Thrive Café. The “rush half-hour” traffic was already cleared, and I found a spot to park right in front – one of those “only in Marietta” moments. I just loved the way the light was hitting the purple stained glass windows that adorned the top of the façade.
Jason Legraen, the General Manager and Co-Creator of Thrive Café and Catering, opened the door for me. For just a second, I questioned if I was in Marietta anymore. Although the café is nestled into one of downtown Marietta’s historic storefronts, the space is sleek, modern, with an urban, city feel. I love the historic charm of downtown Marietta, but I have to say that Thrive’s atmosphere is like a breath of fresh air.
One of the first things you notice upon entering the space is the colorful artwork lining the exposed brick walls. Jason mentioned that the pieces were from local artist Nicole Harris, who was their first featured artist on display. Currently, they have a new collection of letterpress blocks and prints hanging on the wall from Just A Jar Design (One of Just A Jar’s pieces displayed below.)
The space is intimate, but not too small. Small silver café tables fill the restaurant, topped with a clear vase of fresh flowers. The ceilings are high, with the stamped tin you would expect in a historic building. The main dining area is just beaming with a light, positive energy.
The concept for the restaurant, Jason says, is “all about a fresh, healthy, and quick lunch.” As we all know, sometimes the fastest options for lunch are not always the healthiest choices for us.
Some people may notice a few peculiar things in the shop. How about, no cash register. Just an IPad system that has you swipe your own card and sign with your finger!
I asked Jason to tell us how it all works in case you are coming to the café for the first time. He says, “You come in, grab a menu, and find a table. You seat yourself. Once you have decided what you would like to have, you come up to the counter and place your order. Here is where you pay, and we will give you a number. You return to your seat, and we will bring everything out to you shortly.”
On to the food! First off, make sure you check out the specials Chef Jamie cooked up for the day, they are usually on the chalkboard sign before you walk in. At Thrive, they are in the business of making food that fuels your body and your soul. It may be “slow” food, but the service is quick. I know, I know, we live in Marietta so that we can slow down the pace, but sometimes you just don’t have an hour to wait for your lunch!
You can taste the difference in the food immediately. It is not overly salty or too sugary, and the fresh ingredients shine. In my opinion, it is just right. Jason mentioned, “80% of our produce is organic, and we have also sourced a lot of different Ohio Proud items. We are trying to keep it as local as we can, and we are excited and hopeful to get a chance to work with some local farmers in the area starting this Spring.” The chicken and turkey they use are both Ohio Proud items, raised on Gerber Farms. Free range meat, so no antibiotics, and no steroids. On top of that, the turkey is roasted in-house for their sandwiches, and it is super yummy. The Salmon B.L.T, is OMG. Is a sustainable keta filet wild-caught salmon. Not overfished or over processed, like some fish can be. It’s super clean with a wonderful taste. By far my favorite dish, and one of the most popular on the menu currently.
“80% of our produce is organic, and we have also sourced a lot of different Ohio Proud items. We are trying to keep it as local as we can, and we are excited and hopeful to get a chance to work with some local farmers in the area starting this Spring.”
There are no shortage of options at Thrive, and literally everyone can find something they can eat-Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and even Vegan. Don’t worry carnivores, they are cooking up one heck of a Flank Steak Sandwich with sautéed peppers and garlic horseradish sauce just for you!
The menu is seasonal, the salad dressings are all homemade, and the tomatoes are house dried in the oven in the back! All items come a-la-carte, which is great for those indecisive folks like me who always want a little bit of everything. Order the Ginger Chicken Cakes with the Thrive Harvest Salad. Grab a bowl of the Butternut Squash Soup and the house made Roasted Turkey and Swiss sandwich. Mix it up, and have fun doing it.
Let’s talk beverages. This is a no-soda establishment. Yep, you heard me right. Thrive Café will not be serving you a side of high fructose corn syrup to sip along-side your roasted root veggie salad. This may throw a few people off, but they have some great alternatives lined up. Their Thrive Tea – a chai, green and black tea blend, is a great swap. They also have a daily infused natural spring water to choose from, the H2O of the day was rosemary and orange. You can grab a sparkling Pellegrino or a great cup of joe. They even have soy milk, almond milk, or half and half to choose from for your coffee-I mean, who else is doing that around here!? Jason mentions, “We are looking into sourcing some natural sodas for the shop. We have found a company that sweetens their soda with natural agave nectar, and we think that would be a great fit, and addition, to our cafe. So keep an eye out for that.”
On top of their busy café life, they also offer a wonderful catering menu for weddings, private events, or even business lunches. Again, not your typical melted cheese laden dishes, although they do have a fabulous Wine Tasting platter available with specialty cheeses, roasted pecans, fresh fruit, and more. Remember them next time you need to host a party or event!
Thrives food is about nourishment and fueling yourself to live your best life – but that does not make it any less delicious. I promise you will love the taste and better yet – the way it makes you feel! You will be ready to tackle the day ahead, no sluggish mid-day slump for you. I feel Thrive is a welcomed addition to the already wonderful downtown Marietta restaurant scene, and I wish them nothing but the best. I hope you will give Thrive a try – don’t be scared, today is the day to try something new!
Thrive Café & Catering is located at 286 Front Street, in the heart of historic Downtown Marietta, Ohio. Street parking is available in front of the shop, or you can park in the public lot about a block away on Front Street. For additional information, please visit their website!