Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

On our way home from the Warriors game in Ferndale Saturday, Rick and I stopped to eat in Arcata. We ventured beyond the two restaurants we're familiar with and asked a waitress at "Big Blue Cafandeacute;" for a recommendation. She pointed across the plaza and said, "Luke's Joint."

The small cafandeacute; had only one empty table, one waitress and one chef. In addition to breakfast, the menu featured "sublime swine" as well as soups, sandwiches, wraps and grilled paninis.

While we waited for our food, I read the laminated letter on our table. The same letter sat on each of the half-dozen tables in the "joint."

The owner, Luke Patterson, whom I later learned arrived in Arcata

about three years ago, wrote, "Dear Valued Customer, Luke's Joint is

committed to providing our customers with a local, organic and healthy

selection of menu options."

Luke explains his "localcentric" point of view saying that in

addition to the economic, agricultural, social and political

sustainability benefits, buying local is "so easily doable right here in

Arcata, CA."

He lists the farms where he buys his greens, mushrooms, potatoes and

beans. "Goat cheese is from Arcata's very own Cypress Grove Chevre, a

multiple award-winning, small-batch, internationally respected,

artisanal cheese-maker."

The credits continue to roll, praising local Brio Breadworks,

Humboldt Hotsauce and Kinetic Koffee. Luke also mentions his supporting

cast andndash; the local bank, local construction company, local furniture

maker, local upholsterer and local commercial appliance vendor.

On the wall across from me there's an impressive wood mosaic

featuring samples of redwood, walnut, yew, acacia, holly and five other

species sourced from Almquist Lumber. The letter says Luke's own mother

painted the walls.

Our waitress Christina Wile is friendly and helpful when I ask, "Is

there really a Luke?" She seems proud assuring me that indeed there is a

Luke who started off selling pork sandwiches from a cart in Arcata

Plaza. Not long after he opened Luke's Joint and it's been a huge

success. Such a success, in fact, that the very next night is the grand

opening of his newest venture, an elegant dinner house called The Other


Christina brought us the menu from The Other Place. Rack of lamb with

rosemary and black truffle, braised cod cheeks with soft polenta,

homemade fettuccini with asparagus, roasted cippolini onions and 12-hour

tomatoes were among the entrees. Desserts like Grandma's pear and goat

cheese cheesecake and a dark chocolate mousse with lavender tuile and

espresso anglaise sauce made my mouth water.

Local farms and businesses were also named on The Other Place menu. I

don't know if there's a letter on each table there, but the one I read

concluded, "We are determined to support local farms and businesses,

period. And we are sincerely grateful for your support-without your

continued patronage, this budding enterprise would wither away. Yours

Truly, Luke."

The patrons of Luke's Joint were grateful, too. "That was awesome,

man, thank you," I heard one man say to the chef as he left. Others

repeated the ritual. Eventually the lone cook walked out from behind the

glass partition where he'd been working non-stop for the entire time we

were there and greeted the guests. "So, how was it?" he asked.

It was great, not just the food, the service, the eclectic vibe-but,

most importantly for me, the business philosophy. Luke's Joint is open 7

days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 887 H St. in Arcata. The Other

Place is nearby at 660 K St.

Reach Michele Thomas, The Daily Triplicate's publisher, at

mthomas@ tripandshy;licate.com, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.