Pappas Ranch: A glimpse of a community's locally produced food economy

Driving through Tarpon Springs you can see the legacy that the Pappas family has created. The sponge docks and renovated old Pappas Restaurant still are landmarks of that city. Louis Pappas carries on his family's name of connecting food with community today. You will find at the restaurant several distinct ingredients that add flavor and community. For instance, on the dessert menu is a product sold from a local bakery, Key Lime Yummies, where a local Chef makes hand made delicious key lime pies for serving at several restaurants and catering.

Tod's Gourmet Salsa is another local entrepreneur that Louis Pappas has helped sell products at his restaurant. The salsa is made by Tod with a unique flavor that you'd never find in a canned variety. Freshly made and taken by Tod himself to the restaurant, you can't go wrong with Tod's Salsa and some chips.

Mr. Pappas also makes three of his own sauces: White Sauce, Sweet and Smoky, and Sweet and Tangy. For fans of very spicy flavors, the restaurant carries a locally produced hot sauce called Ed's Red Hot sauce.

From the very first day of working at Pappas Ranch I found out that Louis doesn't believe in buying food from out of the country. All his beef is certified Black Angus from Colorado. His catfish and shrimp are from the Gulf of Mexico. We had a side conversation about the Gulf of Mexico spill which he feels is devastating for not only the ecology of the region but the economy as well. All ofhis salads for his "Famous Louis Pappas Greek Salad" come from local farmers and are processed in the local region. He extends this philosophy not only at the Pappas Ranch but at his 5 other Louis Pappas Market Cafe's.

I don't think Louis goes out of his way to be green, but by just following what he feels is right and what works for the community he gives a glimpse of a community food economy that can grow and expand. By making sure he uses local goods and local services he ensures many people are kept working while serving the public fantastic food.

I see in the future a renaissance of food in the Tampa bay area similar to what Pappas has been practicing all these years. For every 1 calorie of food we eat, 10 calories of oil are used to produce that food. By localizing our food we as a community can lower our overall demand on oil . With organic farming growing 20% every year and grain fed beef being more sought after, I see a local food economy growing that can reestablish our economy out of this depression. The same entrepreneurship and cultural delicacies that Louis Pappas blends into Pappas Ranch could be an example to stir up a revival of  artisan food in the community.

Since September of 2009, I've been working at Pappas Ranch, known for their unique blend of Greek and American style barbecue.

I'm not going to waste my time or yours going on about how delicious the food is or about the creative decor, or even about the weekly country bands that come in to perform. The reviews can tempt you with how good the food is, but I want to tempt you with the story of a community coming together around good food.

Louis Pappas is an innovative man with a rich legacy as and a passion for good food. His grandfather came to this country and purchased land on the Pinellas/Pasco border where they've had a ranch since 1905. They opened the Louis Pappas Riverside Cafe which eventually turned into the Pappas Restaurant located in Tarpon Springs. The Pappas Restaurant was world renowned for the creation of the original Greek salad served with the addition of potato salad and was a landmark in Tarpon Springs until its closing in 2002. Louis Pappas has left a legacy of serving good food to an appreciative community.

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