When you name your business Locals, you better have the muscle to back up the moxie. The term signifies a number of things, most importantly, an authentic experience that encapsulates the flavor of a place that is …well, local. If not the actual city, certainly the region.
One of the first things you see when you walk through the door at Locals Food Hub and Pizza Pub at 863 Wilkinson Boulevard is a large map of Kentucky with a spiderweb of lines leading to all the counties from which Locals accesses products.
Central Kentucky is heavily crisscrossed with lines. From Weisenberger Mill flour in Woodford County to Brown’s Tasty Beer Cheese in Anderson County; Backroads Cheesecake Bakery in Fayette County, and Gigi’s Herbs, Blackberry Heaven and Taylor Belle’s Ice Cream right here in Franklin County, Locals is very local.
Owners Birch and Michelle Bragg say 100 percent of what they sell in the Food Hub comes from small Kentucky producers, and that they source as much as possible for the Pizza Pub, depending on what’s available every season.
With Central Kentucky pretty well covered, the couple has branched out to other parts of the commonwealth as well.
In northern Kentucky, the ecologically friendly Valley Spirit Farm provides Locals with pastured pork, grass finished beef, mushrooms and vegetables.
Paintsville in eastern Kentucky is the source of their Kentucky Mountain Coffee, while certain dairy products come from the western part of the state – specifically milk from Legacy Dairy and cheeses from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, both in Barren County.
You can taste the freshness in every sip and bite.
But before you taste, you smell……the aroma emanating from their signature wood-fired pizzas, baked fresh every day.
Seven different pizzas, eight if you count the make-your-own, are a taste bud temptation, with the YouTube Channel’s “America’s Best Restaurants” spotlighting the Umami Mama.
For this pizza, the dough is made from wild yeast sourced from Franklin and Woodford counties to which is added house-pulled local chicken, local bacon, Kalamata olives, balsamic drizzle, and Kenny’s mozzarella on a caramelized onion base and topped with fresh arugula.
It’s lip-smackingly good, but those with big appetites might want to tackle the Carnivore (local Italian sausage, local bacon, pepperoni, local ham, Kenny’s mozz and house tomato sauce).
If you’re looking for extra zest, you can opt for the Pesto Power (Kenny’s mozz and fromage blanc with house-made pesto – farm-fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, maid-n-meadows parmesan, garlic and olive oil.)
Vegetarians aren’t left out either. The Veganista has artichokes, fresh tomatoes and onions and Kalamata olives with a nutritional yeast and a garlic oil base.
And then there’s that make-your-own pizza, using such ingredients as sundried tomatoes, hot pickled chili and sweet pickled peppers ($1 add-ons); caramelized onions, artichoke and pepperoni ($2 add-ons) and various meats and cheeses ($3 add-ons).
While pizzas are a major draw, Locals also offers appetizers (try the cheese bread or the meatballs made with local pork and beef); salads with house-made dressings (the Kale Apple – olive oil massaged kale, apple, sugared pecans, red onions, Kenny’s blue cheese crumbles and sorghum vinaigrette – is a favorite), soups and a cheesecake dessert.
Since its opening in July 2021, Locals has acquired a devoted clientele, who come to eat and stay to shop. Hence, the Food Hub part of the name.
Across from the café is a combo deli/fresh market/convenience store where shoppers can purchase wares from 122 producers.
“Our merchandise is seasonal,” says Michelle. “Right now we have beautiful vegetables such as carrots, radishes, broccoli and tomatoes, but in a month we will have lots of fresh fruit.”
Birch and Michelle say that with Locals Food Hub and Pizza Pub, they have three goals – to increase the community’s access to local food; to support the area’s food producers, and to help contribute to a stronger local food economy.
So, if some use the world local cavalierly, the Braggs do not. For them, it’s a lifestyle as can be seen in their business motto – Become a Local.