by Madison V. Fisler
April 26, 2013. On Tuesday, local burger joint The Come Back Shack debuted its new burger known as “The Local.” This new menu item boasts beef that comes straight from North Fork Farm of Zionville. This small family cattle farm, started in 1993, has been supplying the High Country and beyond with beef, chicken, eggs and pork for twenty years.
North Fork Farm is owned and operated by Sheila and Jimmy Greene. The cattle are fed on a mostly grass diet, with hay supplements during the winter.
“I think that ‘The Local’ is great,” said Sheila Greene. “Eating local supports our local economy. We buy our calves locally from mostly Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties. That means that all of the money stays right here in the High Country, and eventually it all comes full circle.”
Greene said that it is a huge step for local food for a fast food restaurant to branch out and use local products.
“On a personal level, it’s extremely rewarding and fulfilling,” said Scott Prewitt, the co-owner of Come Back Shack.
“I’ve been in this business for 20 years, 18 of those in a regional brand where we didn’t have the freedom to do this. Becoming independent gave us the ability to start looking at thing like this and make changes. It’s educated me on so many opportunities to make more of a difference in the community,” Prewitt said.
“The Local” is the only burger on the menu that uses local beef. Customers still have the option to choose their regular beef patty or their many other options. In addition to its new local beef patty option, Come Back Shack offers other locally grown foods. The sweet potatoes and the turkey used for their turkey burgers are also from North Carolina farms. The cabbage that is used in its cole slaw is from Watauga County.
“This is important because it impacts the local economy. That gave us a lot of encouragement to be more intentional with our sourcing of our products and finding ways to keep it local,” Prewitt said.
Looking forward, Prewitt says that he hopes to expand their local options even further.
“We are ticking off one item at a time to go toward localization. We have to do it one thing at a time. It’s definitely a process and it does not happen overnight,” said Prewitt.
High Country Local First and New River Organic Growers have acted as partners with Come Back Shack to help encourage them to find opportunities to stay local. They have also helped to link Come Back Shack with potential local suppliers for more of their products.
Started in 2011, High Country Local First is an initiative that focuses on increasing awareness and support for local businesses, in order to strengthen the community as a whole. Local business owners have a tendency to contribute to the community, give back to local organizations and take good care of their customers, as customers are generally neighbors. Supporting locally owned businesses promotes more meaningful relationships between the entrepreneurs, employees, customers and the community as a whole said Mary Scott, co-founder and director of High Country Local First.
“Come Back Shack became a member [of High Country Local First], and when restaurants join we meet with them to find out what types of food they want to purchase,” Scott said. “We help connect them with farmers and New River Organic Growers.”
New River Organic Growers delivers the beef from the farm to the restaurant.
“Caleb Crowell, the marketing director for New River Organic Growers was instrumental,” Scott said. “He worked with Come Back Shack to do a blind taste-test of beef from different farms. They liked North Fork Farms the best, so they chose them.”
“The Local” will be available year found for guests to get a taste of what this local farm has to offer.
Scott hopes that this burger will encourage more people in the High Country to try local food, even if its not a burger.