Cali roots; Marietta locale

From salads to fish tacos, Thrive Cafe has been serving up fresh, healthy lunch options since mid-January, but its official grand opening was held Thursday morning.

Owner Christian Jussen said the soft opening was to ensure everyone was prepared.

“Usually with a restaurant, you have a soft opening to work out the kinks or bugs,” he said. “You want to get it down…The worst thing to do is to open and not be prepared.”

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews was on hand to mark the opening, which is a plus for the city, he said.

“It’s a great day in Marietta to see the stores filling up,” he said.

Jamie Heydinger, executive chef, said Thrive Catering has been very successful, adding that it started more than a year before the actual storefront opened at 286 Front Street.

“We have full service catering,” he said. “We’ve done a small office lunch to a 200-person wedding.”

Heydinger said the menu changes periodically and he tries to see what patrons like and what they don’t.

“We try to do a seasonally dictated menu,” he said. “So we change the menu four times a year…We try to respond to what people buy most of the time and what’s not popular, we’ll replace.”

There is something new to Thrive on the spring menu as of this week.

“We have pasta,” Heydinger said. “We haven’t had pasta before. We try to bring lighter spring flavors in.”

Heydinger added that pasta could have shrimp or chicken added.

Jussen said buying fresh produce is a part of the restaurant plan.

“We try to get as much local food as we can,” he said.

In addition to the local River City Farmers Market, produce will probably be bought from the Athens farmers market and the Chesterhill Produce Auction, said Heydinger.

Some local produce is used to make fresh salads with strawberries and cashews, while free range turkeys from farms around Ohio are used to make fresh roasted turkey and swiss sandwiches. Fresh fish is also used to make fish tacos.

In addition to a changing menu, the decor routinely changes.

“Every month we rotate the art,” Jussen said. “Most of the artwork is for sale. We like to support local artists and we like to change the atmosphere.”

Jason Legraen, general manager, said there are already plans to add onto Thrive.

“Eventually our goal is to expand the dining room and kitchen and add dinner,” he said.

Jussen added he is looking into getting a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

“It’ll open up a lot more opportunities for us,” he said.

Legraen said opening the restaurant is an extension of Jussen’s California roots.

“It was a way for him to bring something he enjoyed on the West Coast to Marietta,” he said.

Jussen said he saw Marietta as a great place to raise a family and open a restaurant.

“It’s always been a dream of mine (to open a restaurant), but I knew I couldn’t do it without good help,” he said. “When I moved to the area, I saw the potential for what we have here. My partner is from here and we decided to raise a family here. There’s great quality of life in Marietta. I think a lot of people from here might not appreciate what they have.”