Ormond gets a ‘wild’ place to eat
Wild Rabbit Bistro opened a few weeks ago in the Gaslamp Shoppes, 42 E. Granada Blvd., offering fresh, seasonal fare, with much of the produce from local growers. The restaurant is not vegetarian, but offers offer numerous vegetarian selections.
The owners, Laura and Steve Hannan, also operate Wild Rabbit Café and Juice Bar in Fitness One, 250 Old Kings Road S. in Flagler County. When they were looking for a place to open a restaurant, they were convinced to open in Ormond Beach by local residents who had been driving to their café.
“It’s fresh and local,” said Stacy Baldi. “It’s all about what’s in season.”
Beth Shumaker agreed, saying the restaurant offers something different.
“It’s the farm-to table-aspect,” she said.
LOCAL FARMS TO TABLE
Laura Hannan said she buys local produce as much as possible. For example, she said soon they will be buying potatoes and cabbage in Flagler County, and she recently purchased squash in New Smyrna Beach and escarole in Hastings. She showed a bag of micro-grains (sprouts) that had been delivered by an urban farm owner in Ormond Beach.
“Sometimes a wild idea just works.”
Laura Hannan, owner, Wild Rabbit Bistro
The menu can vary day-to-day, depending on what vegetables are coming in.
On a recent day, the Hearty Bowls selection included the Buddha, listed as “black beans, roasted roots, avocado, colorful veggies, seasonal greens, turmeric tahini dressing.”
Protein offerings on the menu included chicken and salmon.
They are currently open for lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and plan to expand hours and offer brunch and dinner as soon as they hire more staff, hopefully by the first of the year. Business has been brisk.
“The Ormond Beach people have been wonderful,” Hannan said. “They tell me they’ve been looking for a place like this.”
They’ve started to be involved in the community, opening their restaurant for the recent Bike.N.baR event that raised money for cancer victims through Light the Way.
While the Hannans started in Flagler County, they are no strangers to Ormond Beach. Laura Hannan taught chemistry and advanced-placement biology at Seabreeze High School from 2003 to 2014.
“Two of my former students work here, and I just hired a third,” she said.
She enjoyed her teaching career, but it was an “entrepreneur spirit” that encouraged her to move into the restaurant business.
“It lets me be creative,” she said. And she still does a lot of “teaching” in the restaurants as she helps the employees grow in their jobs.
‘WILD’ IDEAS ON BUSINESS
Hannan said the work environment at the restaurant is different than the corporate world and is structured like a community. They have a unique approach to staffing, with every team member learning every job. That enables them to help out wherever necessary, she explained.
“We have a team approach,” she said. “You might be cooking in the morning and washing dishes that night. It’s like a family.”
She said the employees start at minimum wage and everyone shares the tips. In traditional restaurants, the wait staff makes less than minimum wage and is expected to make it up in tips.
Hannan also has a different outlook toward hiring.
“We hire based on heart,” she said. “We look at the individual, not at the resume.”
The name, “Wild Rabbit Bistro,” reflects the foods that rabbits eat, but also was inspired by the Hannan’s children.
“They run around like wild rabbits,” she said.
She said their mission is to do things differently and sometimes people say, “That’s a wild idea.”
“But sometimes a wild idea just works,” she said.