After working years in the nonprofit sector, Todd Mills is now biting into the restaurant business.
Mills owns Acre, a Clintonville restaurant that promises to bring food from the “farm-to-table to-go,” located at 2700 N. High St.
Before earning a Master of Business Administration from the Fisher School of Business, Mills worked for Local Matters, a Columbus nonprofit that, according to its website, is “to inspire action because food impacts the quality of our health, our land and our communities.”
“I got really interested while I was doing that work in creating a business that could help make high quality food more accessible to more people,” Mills said.
His building used to be home to a Mexican restaurant that went out of business. Mills signed the lease in July and opened in late November.
“It’s been neat to see this place come from an empty shell almost, to what it is now,” said Heather Taylor, a fourth-year at Ohio State in natural resource management and Acre employee.
The menu at Acre includes brown rice bowls, wraps, salads, and tacos with protein choices of chicken or pork. Acre also offers mushrooms as a protein substitute on its tacos and tofu for its salads and wraps.Bowls and wraps cost $8.95, and tacos cost $3, and $2.50 for each additional taco.
“We’re going to be adding seasonal dishes on top of (the menu now) so we can actually feature good Ohio produce when it becomes available,” Mills said. “When we have products on this menu that we can get from Ohio, we will.”
The mushrooms are grown in Athens, Ohio, and the sweet potatoes are currently from Bird’s Haven Farm in Granville. Once Bird’s Haven runs out of its crop from the past summer, Acre will source potatoes from out of state, Mills said.
Ingredients like pork, milk and bread are available from local producers year-round. Mills said hehopes to soon work with farmers who have greenhouses so they can have locally produced kale, spinach and other ingredients year-round.
The beverages at Acre are made in house. Offerings include New Orleans style coffee, ginger spritzers and pom-ginger sodas.
A shrub fruit soda is also offered. The drink is made by soaking fruit in vinegar for around a month. After that, the fruit is taken out and a strong fruity flavor is left in the vinegar. Sugar is added to the fruity vinegar to make a syrup and then that is mixed with club soda.
“I know a lot of people are like, ‘Vinegar? I don’t mess with that stuff,’ but it’s really refreshing,” Mills said.
The restaurant does carry out and pick up orders as well. Mills is hoping to have a drive thru window up and running by the beginning of February.
Starting Jan. 25, Acre will be open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., an expansion from its original Wednesday through Sunday schedule.
Mills said the two days off worked well for them starting out in order to catch up from the business of the week before.
“I thought we would have more time to train and have more sort of a slow growth,” Mills said. “Instead we just started out busy.”
Mills now thinks the staff can handle being open another day to cater to their crowds.
“I was surprised how many students are coming in here,” said Mills. “Tons and tons of students are like ‘This is what I want to eat!’ and I’m like, ‘Ooh! Really? Not pizza?’ That’s been great.”
Taylor, a student herself, said she understands the appeal.
“I love that it’s fresh, it’s healthy, and it’s under $10 dollars,” Taylor said. “I don’t know why it took until now to happen but I’m glad it did.”