When the lease for All-Star Market and Deli on North Lombardy Street ran out in December, owner Laurie Lay saw an opportunity for a fresh start. Five months later, she was back in business with a new name, Sprout Market & Café; a new location, 1 N. Morris St. (592-5771); and a new business partner — her husband, Jamie (shown with her below). This time, the focus is on local products, with no processed meats or major-brand soft drinks.
Sprout's chalkboard menu changes from day to day. Recent samplings included a London-broil sandwich with bacon, feta, mixed greens and garlic aïoli; a roasted summer-squash sandwich with vegan ricotta and greens; and Vietnamese-style Bánh Mì sandwiches with gingery baked tofu and slaw. Laurie says she visits farmers markets a couple of times a week, and Sprout buys beef, pork, chicken, eggs and cheese from area farms.
"Wanting to support local producers and know where our food comes from is important to me," says Laurie, a Williamsburg native who has a master's degree in psychology. (Jamie previously worked in information technology.) In addition to starting Sprout, Laurie and a partner, Jared Karnes, have established the nonprofit Renew Richmond, whose projects include reopening a vacant greenhouse at G.H. Reid Elementary School in the city. The Lays' social consciousness is also evident in the dining room's rustic booths, the result of their work in repurposing wooden pallets that were headed to a landfill.