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Radix Tavern to focus on more than food

Radix Tavern, a new restaurant that will specialize in traditional Southern style cooking, will open in Eastown on the site of the former Queen’s Pub. The owner and executive chef plan on bringing both quality food and local sourcing into light.
Underwriting support from:

/Mikki Fujimori, GVSU photography student

/Liz Studt

Balwinder Bal, owner of Bombay Cuisine, and Jayson Leek, former sous chef at the B.O.B., are collaborating to create a new restaurant that will focus on Southern style cooking. The food at Radix Tavern is not the only thing getting attention.

The team is focusing on using as many local and sustainable products as possible during the project.

“We are a locally owned small business and we support other locally owned small businesses. This will show in every aspect of how we operate,” says Leek. “Our food, our tables, our chairs, our glasses and silverware and our artwork will all be sourced from other local companies.”

The restaurant will feature the work of local artists. A large mural will cover a wall in the dining room and smaller paintings will be displayed around the building.

According to Leek, going green and staying local should be more than just a trend. The deeper meaning of supporting local business is often overlooked.

“As providers of food, we have the responsibility to help people go in that direction ecologically. We are just doing our part in facilitating that,” Leek says. “We’re not doing this because it’s trendy, but because we feel that is how all eating should be.”

Radix Tavern aims to be different in their cooking style in order to set themselves apart from other restaurants.

“There are barbeque restaurants and comfort food restaurants, but we have a broad idea of what Southern food is and plan to expand this concept and incorporate it more fully in the future,” Leek explains. The restaurant has plans to widen the idea of Southern food to possibly include Caribbean, Southwestern or Mexican in the future.

“This is the food I grew up with. It’s what I cook at home. It’s my personal background,” says Leek, who is originally from southwest Kansas.

Radix is the Latin word for root. Radix Tavern plans to take traditional food back to its roots, using slow cooking techniques and fresh ingredients to obtain the best flavors.

Bal, although native to India, has spent the majority of his life in North America. He has enjoyed cooking his native cuisine but has wanted to expand and try something new.

“One of the desires I’ve always had is to branch out and really get to know traditional American cuisine, something that has deep roots in this culture. Something that we can create literally from the ground up using the freshest of ingredients,” Bal says. “I’m excited to change with the times. People want to see their food picked from the field and served fresh the next day. That’s exactly what we are going to do.”

The partnership between Bal and Leek provides a learning experience that both can draw from.

“I’m looking forward to splitting the responsibility with Jayson [Leek], who is a professional in the kitchen. Now we can brainstorm a lot. He’s very familiar with the cooking styles that I am interested in,” says Bal.

“Bal is a really passionate person. He has a lot of ideas that we are excited about. We can't wait to see where this takes us,” Leek says.

Bal hopes this passion will play a role in the success of Radix Tavern.

“As long as you keep the edge alive, your job will stay interesting. That’s always been and always will be my perspective,” says Bal. “And as it turns out, Grand Rapids is an excellent place to cook. The city is fairly small so people take notice of restaurants. Our philosophy is just to put quality food on the table. The rest will follow.”

Radix Tavern is connected to Bombay Cuisine. The Grand Opening is planned for August 3 and 4.

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