August 22, 2012

Natural Foodie: Roost is the new perch for raw organic food and juices

The new Portland restaurant features an all-plant-based menu.

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

From the recipes to the farmers to the service philosophy, everything about Roost House of Juice is carefully crafted to promote health, greater awareness and conscious consumption.

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Kathleen Flanagan and Jeanette Richelson are opening Roost House of Juice on Free Street in Portland, featuring organic and vegan juices and smoothies, and an all-plant-based menu.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Kathleen Flanagan pours a Shaktini.

Additional Photos Below



HOURS: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday; noon to 8 p.m., Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday

WHERE: 11 Free St., Portland

INFO: 899-4275;

Today, assuming all went according to plan, the Portland raw organic-food restaurant opens to the public. With 38 seats and an all-plant-based menu, the restaurant offers a long list of juices and smoothies and a shorter array of breakfast dishes, small plates for lunch and dinner, desserts and wines.

Kathleen Flanagan and Jeanette Richelson, yoga teachers with experience in the restaurant industry, have been planning this eatery for a year and a half. They worked with a large community of vendors, farmers, business consultants, family members, friends and artists to fine tune the restaurant into a space unique for this foodie town. A Kickstarter campaign to help cover the restaurant's start-up costs exceeded its goal.

"What we're doing here is creating conscious recipes using local and organic produce," Flanagan said.

In 2009, a raw vegan restaurant called GRO Cafe opened in downtown Portland, but it closed after only a short stint when its owner moved on to other business opportunities. While there is a raw foods school on Munjoy Hill and numerous juice bars, Roost becomes the city's only raw food restaurant and all-organic juice bar.

Located on Free Street near Arabica, Roost is obtaining ingredients from local organic farms certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. They include New Beat Farm, Green Spark Farm, Fishbowl Farm, Freedom Farm and Dandelion Spring Farm.

"We wanted to support as much local as possible," Richelson said. "The local farmers are so amazing, and there's such abundance here."

As in everything the pair has done in preparation to open Roost, they acted deliberately and carefully in selecting farmers to work with.

"We believe in eating organic and clean, healthy foods," Flanagan said. "We went to all these farms and saw how they farmed and observed their practices. It was important to us to know them. What we found is we really believe in the people we're supporting. How they live their lives and how they treat their land."

Items that can't be gotten locally or directly from a local farm will come from a network of carefully vetted distributors, which include Crown O'Maine Organic Cooperative and Farm Fresh Connection.

Another part of the restaurant's sustainable approach involves using the pulp that results from the Omega juicer to create crackers. The restaurant contracts with Resurgam Zero Food Waste to compost any other food scraps.

At Roost, juices are available in either 8-ounce ($3.50 to $5.50) or 16-ounce ($6 to $7.50) sizes and smoothies are poured in 16-ounce glasses ($4.50 to $8).

Food items range in price from $3.25 for kid-sized snacks up to $9.50 for the sampler plate.

A selection of juices called Fancy-Full are essentially health food cocktails served in a martini glass. One of the juice cocktails, the Red Russian, is made with Russian kale, cranberries and lemons and a choice of Urban Farm Fermentory's Ginger Kombucha, Oak Barrel Kombucha, sparkling water or prosecco.

All juices and smoothies will be made-to-order, with the exception of the three fresh juices available for grab-and-go each day. These will be made on a Norwalk Hydraulic Juice Press, a sophisticated machine which creates juices with very low oxidation, allowing them to be refrigerated before serving without losing flavor or nutrients.

The to-go juices will include the Regulator (containing kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, lemon and apple), Return of the Radi (made from radish, carrot and apple juice) and Emerge & See (containing vitamin C, cayenne, apple and ginger).

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Additional Photos

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Jeanette Richelson prepares a Regulator.

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Beverages featured at Roost include, clockwise from left, Carrot Cake Smoothie, which tastes like its namesake with a mix of carrot juice, ginger, nutmeg and raisins; Regulator, a green juice concoction of kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, lemon and apple; AB&J Protein Smoothie (or almond butter & jelly), made with a mix of almond milk, almond butter, blueberries, flax seeds, hemp seeds and tahini; and Fancy-Full Juice Shaktini, served in a martini glass and made from beets, apples and blueberries garnished with a touch of beet pulp.


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