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Off Menu with Ari and Ben

Published on: July 29th, 2020

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Just off of 2nd street in Longmont, CO and a few blocks west of main, where Pratt meets Price, lies a restaurant where Mediterranean flavor meets American farm fresh. The New American farm-to-table restaurant, Sugarbeet, is a fusion of experiences from the well-traveled partners, Ari Kara and Ben Wheelon.

 

 

 

Ari grew up in a small northern Greek town and describes his childhood as “being blessed by nature.” When he talks about his family and wonderful childhood, the corners of his eyes light up and a smile penetrates his face mask. “In our family garden,” Ari says, “We had nearly everything.” He grew up with all sorts of trees including pomegranate, walnuts, berry, orange, lemon, and lime, and was inspired to learn then, and masterfully use now, fresh ingredients to bring little bits of delight to the experience.

 

His mother and grandmother were outstanding cooks and showcased their best every Sunday when the full extended family, twelve in all, would come over.  

 

Seeking culture, adventure, and openness, is Ben’s mantra and how he lived yesterday, lives today, and will do so in the future. Ben was inspired not only by his Greek brother in law to cook great Mediterranean food but also by his travels across Europe early on in his life. Ben is a Kinesthetic learner and mastered the back and front of the house aspects of running a restaurant in his youth in Oregon and many years in Boulder Valley.  He seeks to create a great environment for patrons to build memories, so he means it when he says, “Good restaurants are like those good Sunday night dinners.”  

 

 To create the feelings associated with the best of family meals, Ari and Ben searched for a space to launch innovative and fresh culinary delights and purchased Sugarbeet three years ago. They kept the vaulted ceilings with exposed venting and beams and added a farm-to-table experience that is like no other in the area. Ben describes their approach as, “the classics re-imagined.” 

 

 

 

The times have created interesting obstacles for the restaurateurs to overcome and the Ari-Ben duo has pushed through each step of the way. From wonderful landlords, loyal guests, and team members that have been with them for years, relationships have helped Sugarbeet weather these challenging times.

 

The relationship with customers is paramount for the owners who recognize, says Ben, that “we are in the hospitality industry” and everything we do is to make our customers feel safe. For three months, they were only open for takeout and that is when “we mastered the preparing food inside of the reality of pandemic,” says Ben.  Cleanliness was always imperative, but this team took it further.  “We have significant spacing, digital menus, individual sanitizers on each table, and naturally everyone is wearing masks during the entire prep and serve process,” Ben continued. 

 

I took a chance to sit outside today in the shade of 90-degree weather to experience it all and boy was I glad that I did. I came in around 4:00 pm for their happy hour and satisfied a desire for world-wide travel; I took a tour of the Mediterranean and America’s west as I tried nearly every appetizer.  

 

 While awaiting my food, I overheard a rising 6th-grader, Ari Davis, from Erie, CO exclaim, “No offense mom, but this grilled cheese is better than yours.” You know the food is good when kids are calling out mom.  

 

Many have asked what we can do to help our local businesses and local economies during these uncertain times. The team at Sugarbeet echoes what so many others want to see: “eat out and help the entire chain,” says Ben.  “Restaurants are endpoint in the food chain” and they support so many other businesses and industries. It is advised though that you call to make reservations when you want to experience this restaurant that is off the beaten path.   

 

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