It is powerful to be able to have whatever you want when ordering at a restaurant. Unfortunately, people with dietary allergies and intolerances do not always have that luxury. After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006, Christine Ruch found that the best solution to conquering the fear of eating out was opening a restaurant whose focus is to provide ingredient conscious, healthy, delicious food. Two years ago, Fresh Thymes was born.
For those of us with food sensitivities, dining out can be stressful. There is the fear of being a burden to others, having a limited selection and getting sick. Christine noticed the lack of a mid-casual dining environment for people with allergies. The fast-casual concepts that existed were often chain restaurants that lack high quality ingredients.
Fresh Thymes is a safe haven for those with allergies. There are no hidden ingredients, fillers, or allergens in the foods. Ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible, and Fresh Thymes develops a close relationship with vendors to ensure that the ingredients the restaurant gets are exactly what is ordered.
Recently, I have been on the hunt for gluten free chicken liver pate. I had given up the search, convinced that such a thing does not exist until I looked in Fresh Thymes’ Fresh Fridge. There sat a little jar of chicken liver pate calling out my name!
Christine says the best part of owning Fresh Thymes is the unlimited creativity that she has in the kitchen. Customers can find other dishes (hard to find gluten-free) such as pizzas, chicken wings and rice crispies that are allergy-conscious.
Though Fresh Thymes has a seasonally changing menu, one of its unique features is the daily changing counter, which serves a variety of proteins, salads and sides. Customers have the option of ordering sides individually or making a meal. The salads are always colorful and fresh, and samples are given upon request.
On my most recent visit, the counter offered three different proteins options of chicken, steak and red chile pork, a flatbread, and four beautiful salads: tomatoes, corn and green beans, beet coleslaw with sumac dressing, kale and arugula greens salad, and a chickpea salad. For dessert, there were cookies, muffins, brownies, raw cheesecake, key lime tarts and rice crispies.
Fresh Thymes largely relies on customer feedback for new menu items and improvements. In the fall, Fresh Thymes will introduce pho to the menu. It will be an opportunity to put a spin on something people may take for granted. There will be the traditional rice-noodle version, as well kelp noodle and paleo options. The goal is to provide a nourishing, filling and healthy soup able to be tailored to a variety of needs.
In addition to delicious food, Fresh Thymes has a nice selection of wine and beer. Christine hopes that over time, customers will order more wine to pair with the foods. Her wine selection includes organic, sustainable and approachable wines. Often people do not realize that wine may have molecular debris from agents used to clarify wine, such as casein or albumin. Christine’s goal is to ensure that even people with the most severe allergies can enjoy a glass.
I had the opportunity to taste through the selection of reds: Pinot Noir from California, Malbec from Argentina, and two California Cabernets. One of the Cabernets is vegan, sustainable and biodynamic. All four of the wines are approachable, light and easy drinking, perfect to pair with the flavorful foods Fresh Thymes serves. It is challenging to find good wine to match the flavorful food at Fresh Thymes, but the current selection is pretty delicious.
Fresh Thymes is the only CSR in Colorado! CSR stands for Community Supported Restaurant, a few of which exist through the nation. A large amount of funding for the restaurant comes from the community. Once a year, around the anniversary of the restaurant, customers have the opportunity to buy a share in the restaurant.
The CSR has three levels. $250 receives a $300 credit, $500 receives $625 and $1000 receives $1300 in dining credit to use through the year. This program allows loyal customers to bring back friends to “eat for free,” which helps grow the customer base of Fresh Thymes. Members of the CSR receive special emails, promotions and first word of events and new menu items.
On August 29, 2015, Fresh Thymes celebrated its two year anniversary, bringing a wonderful turnout, as if it was opening for a second time. Though customers are requesting another Fresh Thymes location, Christine hopes to one day open a Mexican restaurant with the same food philosophy as Fresh Thymes. Ill be the first one at the door when that happens.
Healthy allergen-free food, an abundance of options, great prices, delicious beverages and a warm environment can be expected at Fresh Thymes. Next time I’m searching for a gluten free version of a craved food, Fresh Thymes will be the first place I look.