If you’re a resident of Stanislaus County and a fan of local, organic food, you’re probably already familiar with Greens.
For the past three years, Greens has satisfied organic food lovers—and everyone else—with two locations in downtown Modesto. Greens Central served as the central kitchen for the popular eatery while Greens Market sold a range of local and organic products including produce, packaged goods and a wide variety of handmade pre-prepared foods available frozen, refrigerated or hot.
This past December, Greens owner Ann Endsley made a big bet on the future of the company when she decided to shutter the Market and open Greens Table, a restaurant focused on serving breakfasts and lunches made with the same fresh, local food that has always been the store’s passion. Greens Table is located on Bangs Avenue in the former location of The Lunch Pail. This spring, Greens Central is also transitioning into Greens Bistro, a restaurant with expanded hours and a menu designed by local chef and entrepreneur Mohini Singh.
From the first days of Greens Market, 70% of its business was in prepared food, so this new evolution takes the company toward what customers have wanted to see. “This evolution is really where people want to go,” said Endsley, speaking from the dining room at Greens Table where a large food case offers a selection of prepared foods hugely expanded over what was available at the Market.
“We’re doing kind of a mini market here and focusing on the things people want,” added Endsley. “What really occurred to us is that people weren’t coming to Greens to things they could get at the grocery store. They were there for the prepared food, for our selection of local products and all the local produce you couldn’t find anywhere else.”
Greens Table fits into the businesses’ founding mission: to offer an avenue through which locally-made products could reach the Stanislaus County community. “I realized that in order to buy some of the beautiful products and produce that are made right here, I had to go into the Bay Area,” said Endsley. “I thought that was crazy!”
Endsley started by offering a growing selection of local products as well as produce from local organic farms. “That was the mission, just to make local products and local produce available year round. A lot of the products we carried were gluten free or vegan products, things that you really can’t buy very easily elsewhere. Beyond that, we also provided fresh, handmade prepared food every day because I know we all want healthy meals, even though none of us have time to cook!”
That mission hasn’t changed with the transition to Greens Bistro and Greens Table. “The whole healthy eating, local eating, eating with the seasons ethos, that’s still what we’re all about. Our ethic is just to provide really clean, good food. But now we can both sell the products here and also just get the food to people directly.”
Though it may be unique in the local market, Endsley’s ethic reflects a movement toward local, sustainable eating that has been gaining popularity in the United States over the last few decades. Greens represents some of the first indications that the natural food movement has made it to Modesto. The rallying cry is hard to argue with: food should be real.
Adherents reject the inclusion of preservatives, avoid heavily manufactured ingredients and foods grown in factory farms and try to reduce the distances that components must travel before they’re included in the final dish.
“We’re just trying to meet the needs of people who want to eat clean. We don’t only make healthy stuff, there’s a lot of naughty stuff here too,” said Endsley, indicating a case filled with beautifully decorated cakes. “But there are no preservatives in anything, everything is made from scratch, everything that can be local is… most of it’s organic, too.”
“We’re trying to make it really homey, really family friendly and really affordable,” said Endsley. “I really have a mission to bring good healthy, handmade food to Modesto at a price that the average family can afford. But I also really want to get some jobs going here. It’s important to me to keep as many employees as I can.”
From the food, to the jobs, Endsley says that Greens is fundamentally just about giving back to Stanislaus County. “This is not always an easy area and I see a lot of need here. That’s why I’ve done this. I think it’s just so important that we help each other in any way we can.”
From providing access to clean, healthy, local food, to offering a helping hand to a wide sampling of charities and people in need, Endsley and Greens are committed to making Stanislaus County a better place to live for all its citizens.
Greens Table is located at 501 Bangs Avenue near McHenry in Modesto. Greens Bistro is now open at 953 10th Street. For more information, visit greensmarket.net.