Healthy eats is all the rage in the Foothills, with the chic restaurant on Riverside Gate making quite the name for itself.
With backgrounds in restaurants and sustainable living respectively, Jarod and Michelle Traxel opened Little Fast + Fresh to try their hand at owning their own healthy fast food restaurant, and have been well received.
Little Fast + Fresh swept the Best of the Foothills Readers’ Choice Awards this year, raking in three gold medals in Best New Business, Best Place for Fast Food, and Best Place for Healthy Eats; silver for Best Place for Lunch; and bronze for in Best Restaurant in Okotoks.
“We want to be a business that focuses on the community, so when the community accepts us and reaches out and supports us in these types of things, it lets us know that hey, we’re doing something,” said Michelle.
Placing in the different categories came as a complete surprise, as they didn’t work to promote their nomination.
“It was just kind of humbling, and it gave us a little bit of a push to realize that it’s worth it,” she said. “We work around the clock, and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming.
“So when stuff like that comes about, and it comes about in that really organic way, it makes you feel really good.”
In the 18 months since opening their doors, Little Fast + Fresh has become a cornerstone of the community, offering a place to gather around healthy, local, and sustainable food for everyone, or grab a bite on-the-go.
Jarod said that a lot of restaurants don’t take dietary needs seriously, so they wanted to make a place where people could feel confident that they were taken care of.
Opening very few cans, Jarod said they make almost everything they serve themselves—including their flours, coffee syrups, condiments, and dressings—which allows them to accommodate for dietary preferences or requirements.
Working with local farms as much as possible, Little Fast + Fresh has made a priority of showcasing good, healthy foods—which has extended to nearby schools in the form of hot lunch programs.
“Just hearing the feedback even from teachers from the kids having lunches that we sent in, and eating it and being able to keep it together after instead of being off-the-walls,” said Jarod.
The hot lunch program started in Jan. of this year, and six schools from the Foothills School Division and into south Calgary have already signed up for the fall semester, with plans to expand.
“It’s just a logistical issue of how far can we go and still serve people lunch and not melt down,” said Michelle. “But we’re getting there, and that’s always been a piece of the puzzle that’s been very important to us: we want to make great, healthy food accessible to all.”
Not only is the healthy food accessible to all, but they’ve also proven compostable packaging is too.
Michelle said living a sustainable lifestyle has always been a priority for her, and was necessary from the get-go for Little Fast + Fresh.
“It wasn’t even an option for us, I was very neurotic about it,” she said. “It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing, and it’ constantly changing (…) but you figure it out, and if we can do it, I think lots of other people can do it too.”
They hope that their success in Okotoks will benefit other people and business owners.
“We just want to foster community, and if we’re getting awards like this, it inspires other people to take risks on opening something in Okotoks,” said Michelle.