Worth the Drive: Quality local ingredients star at Rosie’s in Anniston
What do you do when find yourself owner of the family farm? That’s easy. You open a restaurant and share the bounty of that land with your community.
This story behind Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go take-out and restaurant in Anniston sounds simple enough, but the longer version tells a tale of honoring a home place, family working together, a fortuitous friendship becoming a partnership and a commitment to local fare that’s feeding the area right.
It all happened pretty fast, as Stacey Hardy, Rosie’s co-owner, explains. “My sister and I were raised on our grandmother Rosie’s farm, PondeRosie, in Cedar Springs, and when she passed in 2012, we weren’t sure what to do with it.” Hardy and her husband had a thriving business that kept them plenty busy – owning and running 15 AT&T stores. “We didn’t need the farm, but it meant too much to us. I couldn’t stand to sell it,” she said. So she didn’t.
She and her husband bought it from the estate, and then, out of the blue, a company called and made them an offer on their stores. “We weren’t looking to sell. We hadn’t even thought about it, but it timed out just right,” she says. They moved onto the farm and began farming – or least trying. “We’d never run a farm. We spent the first few months just figuring things out,” she says.
After getting a pair of tractors, they still needed help. “We had our kids, my sister and her kids, all out with us making this place work, making things grow again,” she says. Their labors paid off. The crops were so abundant, they started selling at the fledgling Anniston farmers market and watched it grow along with their farm.
The Hardys’ market stand became a favorite of local restaurants and chefs, including Chef Katrina Watson, who was running Cahaba Brewery’s kitchen at the time. “We became friends, and one day, she made a meal for me. It was amazing,” Hardy says.
After that, Watson started doing dinners for Hardy to serve her family after long days on the farm. And then they had an idea. “Katrina is wildly talented but didn’t have the financial resources to open a catering business or restaurant,” Hardy says. “And I didn’t know food, but I know how to manage a business. We decided to join forces.”
They opened Rosie’s in April 2016 as both a meal take-out shop and sit-down restaurant, and once again, things happened fast. “We had such a great response so quickly, we had to bring all the kids and family we’d used as farmhands over to the restaurant to work,” Hardy says.
Now, crowds come in for a taste of the goodness harvested from the Hardys’ farm, but also the dishes made with other local products.
Like Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits made in Fort Payne (one of the few items not made in-house) drizzled with Eastaboga Bee Company honey. Or the potato salad that’s got a kick, thanks to Wickles Pickles. Or the chunky pimento cheese (braced by planks of bacon) gluing together two thick slices of sourdough from Anniston’s Artisanal Baked Goods bakery.
The salads, sandwiches and burgers are all built on local ingredients. So are the specials served on Friday and Saturday nights. And on Sundays, Rosie’s serves farm-to-table “meat and three” plates, packing in more than 300 people on this day alone each week.
While produce at its peak is a hallmark of Rosie’s, the best seller is Watson’s chicken salad. “We have to grill 40 pounds chicken every day to have enough to meet the demand,” Hardy says.
And Hardy’s favorite menu item is the burger. “It’s so, so good,” she says. Last year, it won “Anniston’s Best Burger” in a blind-tasting contest.
Chef Katrina’s tempting homemade desserts include red velvet whoopie pies, hefty wedges of turtle cheesecake and strawberry and white chocolate bread pudding (when strawberries are ripe!) as well as cheeses from Wrights Dairy down the road.
With Rosie’s one-year anniversary approaching, Hardy and Watson are grateful for the area’s warm welcome, one that’s only strengthened their dedication to their original philosophy. “We started this saying we’d only use the best quality ingredients and local ingredients,” Hardy says. “The huge response from our customers shows that they love it, and it’s what we will keep on doing.”
Rosie’s Gourmet 2 Go
3337 Henry Road • Anniston, AL 36207
Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gourmet Meals 2 Go:
Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.