Uncommon values at Common Roots Café


Just inside the entrance, a barista pulls a perfect shot of espresso-based drink and then pours into a warm ceramic cup topped with a leaf in the foam for a guest. A handful of smartly dressed laptop luggers sit at the communal table in back of the café sipping local Minnesotan ales and sampling small plates while chatting passionately about food, wine and art. This is no trendy, pretentious showmanship, though, simply the heartbeat of Common Roots Café. 

As locavore as it gets in Minneapolis, Common Roots café, the brainchild of Danny Schwartzman, boasts a menu full of locally grown and organic ingredients. It opened its doors on July 9, 2007 with one clear mission – to make delicious food. It’s through this principle that Schwartzman changed the way we eat and think about food. The food at Common Roots café showcases the culinary creativity where the food is made from scratch by chefs who experiment with textures and flavors from ingredients that are fresh, locally and organically sourced. The source of where your food comes from matters, not only to the environment but your taste buds too.

Originally the café offered the typical internet coffee shop flare, pastries, sandwiches and coffee from local Minnesotan roasters, Peace roasters. They eventually branched off to offer artistic dinner items and local ales inspired by the best ingredients of the season from suppliers such as Thomas Hills Cattle Company, Coastal Seafoods, and Wisconsin cheese producer Sartori Foods to attract not only the buy-local customers but also customers looking for a decent meal. “I wanted this to be a place where you come not only because the food is local and organic, but also because you really like the food,” Schwartzman says.

“Everything changes on the menu – Common Roots in July is totally different from Common Roots in January,” says Adam Marquardt as he pulls another cup of cappuccino for a guest. The kitchen manager Taya Kaufenberg and chef Adam Ruplinger experiment with different flavors of the season to create interesting dishes, case in point, instead of the pasta being the starting point, it was the apple cider reduction sauce which was the inspiration of the creation of the famous cauliflower ravioli, created for the winter menu but stayed due to popularity. The characteristic warm and nutty flavors of Beurre noisette, brown butter harmoniously paired with the earthy tones of sage, from the herb garden in the back, and parmesan cheese marries bite-size cauliflower pieces and ravioli stuffed with cauliflower puree to create both sweet and savory tastes. For brunch this past summer, the salmon and eggs created from pan-roasted wild salmon and organic farm fresh eggs was popular. It was served with vinaigrette salad with mixed greens and veggies from the garden and toasted bread.

In addition to offering stellar food sourced from local farms, Common Roots boosts the livelihood of the Uptown community by providing living wages, health and benefits to their employees, as well as eliminating over 18,000 pounds of kitchen and dining room waste through compost practices.

In addition, the vision of community activism and sustainable food goes hand in hand at Common Roots. They offer a meeting room that non-profit organizations use for more than 50 meetings per month where they discuss ways to improve the community; after all Danny Schwartzman is an Uptown community organizer turned restaurateur.