Margaret and Phillip Nabors were ahead of the curve in championing natural and organic foods when they opened Mustard Seed Market & Café in 1981. To ensure the integrity of every item stocked on their shelves, the Nabors developed a list of golden standards—nine guidelines that range from a ban on high-fructose corn syrup to selling only cruelty-free cosmetics. This combination of rigor and passion has propelled Mustard Seed for more than 30 years, filling two locations with locally grown produce, fresh-baked vegan cookies, and naturally lean-but-tender beef from certified Piedmontese cattle, which are raised on an all-vegetarian diet free of steroids and antibiotics.
Today, the Nabors' children, Abraham and Gabe, have joined their parents in leading Mustard Seed's team of natural-foods experts—who include everyone from the customer-service associates to the stockers, ensuring that shoppers can find answers to their questions around every corner. The store also educates customers through classes and free lectures on topics such as California wines and what’s going to happen when they run out of letters to name the vitamins.
Named Akron’s Best Coffee Shop by CityVoters in 2010, Nervous Dog percolates palates with locally roasted beans, soothing smells, and a small menu irrigated with pastries and tasty sandwiches. To prepare for a busy workday filled with consolidating files with a flaming broadsword, grab a small coffee ($1.75), or opt for a more complex tongue massaging with a small latte ($2.95), cappuccino ($2.95), or mocha ($3.55). The various tasty pastries are baked daily, ensuring that they’re fresher than a cryogenically frozen bouquet of daisies ($2.35 each, on average). For heartier appetites and edible-strata enthusiasts, the Stow location serves up sandwiches, buckling under the weight of a quarter pound of Boar's Head deli meat and snuggled between slices of french, italian, or ciabatta bread, or a New York bagel ($6.85). Customers on the run and method actors doing research for a Boo Radley portrayal can stock up on invigorating coffee with a one-pound bag of beans ($12.85).
A nonprofit, java-centric venture, Urbean Café brews and serves steaming cups of locally roasted coffee in order to support Urban Connection, a community-outreach program designed to provide employment training to disadvantaged members of the community. The café menu stars fresh, Akron-roasted beans in a stimulating selection of coffee concoctions ($1–$4), alongside a tasty supporting ensemble of seasonal sandwiches ($3.50), soups ($2), muffins ($1), and more. The eco-friendly café building boasts solar-power panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and a noticeable absence of stove-burning stoves. The mobile Urbun Cart makes it easier than ever to guzzle a tummy-warming drink while enjoying the all-over warmth that comes with helping others.
At the Root Café, the staff’s passion for food takes a backseat to their passion for community. That’s not to say they don’t love making their steaming cups of coffee, baked goods, and fruity smoothies, but the true reason behind their culinary efforts is to keep guests fed and happy during a range of community-oriented events. Each month the café features activities such as poetry readings, children’s playtime, comedy shows, and forums about current events, serving as a place for locals to hang out and build bonds. While the atmosphere is always jovial, clients who wish to get work done can utilize the shop’s free Wi-Fi.
Rockne Becker’s mantra of “great food fast,” has been translating into healthy meal choices for families in the greater Cuyahoga Falls area since the 1970s. With an eye toward developing that community, he hires and mentors students from the business programs at local high schools to work in his kitchen, where they prep sky-high deli sandwiches, slow-roast comfort-food classics, and toss fresh salads.
Between the cherry-red walls of Near East Caffe, guests recline in leather lounge chairs or patterned couches, passing between them spooling hoses connected to ornate hookahs. From the metal and glass towers arrives delectable smoke, pulled from a selection of 100-plus flavors of shisha the lounge offers. Crackling coals burn flavors such as double apple, peach, strawberry, and ocean breeze, along with a variety of flavors from the Starbuzz brand. Customers can also pick and choose flavors to blend, creating concoctions such as lemon-mint or quadruple apple—named after the number of apples that fit in the average human mouth. As they sip on smoke, they can revel in conversation, take in sights from a couple of flat-screen televisions, or simply sit and enjoy the music-filled atmosphere.