Tempeh, kombucha, kefir, acai bowls, hemp seeds…not exactly the culinary staples of Eastern Shore cuisine, and yet, over the past few years we have seen healthy, unique options with increasing regularity. We love a massive cheesesteak sub or a bucket of French fries as much as the next beach-goer but that doesn’t mean we don’t also enjoy nourishing, healthy options when grabbing a bite to eat. Real Raw Organics is the latest addition to our slowly-but-surely-growing organic food scene in OCMD, and with the intensely motivated Logan Willey spearheading the Real Raw Organics movement, we don’t see it slowing down any time soon.
We’ll start with the basics: Real Raw Organics took the place of Local Mojo (which as you know has morphed into Urban Nectar in Berlin). Located on 34th Street in Ocean City, the kombucha brewery and café is currently open Thursday through Sundays, offering an eclectic mix of healthful goodies, from the menu of organic snacks and meals, to the grocery section, to the local art and interior décor, to the freshly brewed kombucha. Leading the way is Logan Willey, who along with the help of her boyfriend (Chris Dalpra) and a supportive network of family and friends, has taken what was once a fleeting idea and turned it into a rapidly growing small business.
Rewind to a few years ago when Willey and Dalpra were spending a winter in Hawaii. “We went to Maui and they had a small batch kombucha brewery there. When we came back home, I started looking into it more and experimenting with it,” explained Willey, who soon found herself brewing her own kombucha. For those of you unfamiliar with kombucha, it’s a healthy, fermented tea containing live probiotics, vitamins, and electrolytes. The fermented tea is raw (never heated over 118 degrees) and alive with a symbiotic culture or yeast and bacteria. In addition to being refreshing and quite delicious, the tea boasts remarkable health benefits, including aiding digestion and immunity, improving joint function, and cleansing the body. “It’s an intensive process, but it’s actually pretty simple,” said Willey.
Once Willey found her perfect brew – which is composed of organic black tea flavored with a variety of fresh, organic ingredients – she decided to share a few samples with friend and Zenna Wellness owner Chrissy Ehrhart. “She was the one who really pushed me into making this into a company,” Willey said of Ehrhart, who was soon stocking the kombucha in the studio for students to enjoy. “The second I started making it, it was selling out in days,” said Willey. “It has just grown so much – I’m so grateful.” Before she knew it, Real Raw Organics was popping up on the shelves of local stores, including Baked, Ocean City Organics, My Nature, and Raggamuffin. Green Grocer, a DC-based grocery delivery service, also jumped on board, helping Willey reach eager customers in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and D.C.
It soon became apparent that Willey and Dalpra needed a permanent location for brewing and selling kombucha, not to mention the arsenal of business ideas Willey was eager to launch, including cooking, selling groceries, and utilizing her interior design degree. After what seemed like an interminable search for the perfect spot, Local Mojo owner Shenendoah Cute, reached out to inform Willey that she was relocating her store to Berlin. The stars aligned and just a few months later, Real Raw Organics Kombucha Brewery & Café was born.
The tiny space is surprisingly open – bursting with light and studded with charming finishing touches. What’s more, local goods and purveyors are featured throughout, including an impressive display of furniture from Hunt and Lane. Willey will also be showcasing various interior design items for purchase. Signage was completed by friend and fellow entrepreneur Wyatt Harrison of Plak That. The walls will also be adorned with Plak That work, along with artwork from various local artists.
Of course our favorite part is the menu selection. Healthy options abound here, with a refreshing selection of unique items like the Tempeh Reuben, Breakfast Toasts, Acai Bowls, or Frozen Banana Bowls. We opted for the Banana Bowl, which was an oversized helping of frozen bananas pressed through a masticating juicer and topped with strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, granola and chocolate covered hemp seeds. Up next was the Savory Breakfast Toast which included a slice of Ezekiel whole grain toast topped with vegan butter, avocado slices, and organic feta cheese. Finally, the Tempeh Reuben – tempeh, sauerkraut and vegan Russian dressing (hint: tempeh is a high protein food made from slightly fermented soybeans. Maintaining a nutty, textured flavor, it’s often compared to tofu but really tastes quite different. Give it a try!). Tacos, salads, sandwiches, snacks, yogurt bowls, Thai iced coffee, water kefir…so many delightful items and so little time! A return trip is already in the works…
“I wanted to bring people a different option,” said Willey, who has always maintained a passion for cooking healthy items. “That part has been really exciting for me.” Another major push for Willey has been using as many organic products and ingredients as possible. “That’s a really big thing for me, and it’s growing so much in this area. I am seeing how badly people really want that option, which is great.”
Moving forward, Willey is bursting with ideas and potential add-ons for Real Raw Organics. Come spring, the café will be open seven days a week and will feature outdoor seating, daily specials, increased grocery items and much, much more. For now, stop in and visit Logan Thursday through Sunday and follow @realraworganics on Facebook and Instagram!
Photos by Gina Whaley