Pharmacy to Farmacy: Serving up fresh food
BY AUTUMN NEAL
Nestled in the middle of quaint Main Street in Escalon, there’s a business that’s gone through quite a few changes through the years.
The building at the corner of Main and Second first started out as a pharmacy, turned into a café, and now is the regular lunch spot for many working Escalonians and is nearing its one-year anniversary. Meet: the Food Farmacy.
Owner Tiffany Early started cooking food at an early age; she can recall making pancakes and scrambled eggs in first grade. Cooking, baking, and the works, it’s all something she’s always been naturally good at doing.
“I used to work here when it was Leonardo’s (café),” Early noted of the establishment. “When I used to work here, people always used to say ‘Oh, I remember when this used to be the pharmacy’.”
The building’s latest change from a café to a popular lunch hub has been one of intertwining the old with the new. Whether it be something as big as the name or something as little as a menu option, Early has carefully crafted an atmosphere to bring a modern twist to something beloved by the town.
When Leonardo’s went up for sale, Early seized the opportunity to own her own place. Instead of naming it “Tiffany’s Bistro” like some of her supporters encouraged, she decided to dig back into the building’s roots and name it the Food Farmacy.
Because she shops for the produce every day and rarely freezes selections, Early can really embrace the “farm fresh” feel of her eatery. While diners sometimes try to figure out if it’s a cafe, a bistro, a sandwich shop, or something else entirely, the quality of her food is never compromised.
“Some of the menu I kept the same because some of the choices were really popular,” she explained, recalling Leonardo’s food selection. “We added flatbreads and build your own burger, more salads, more sandwiches.”
They kept favorites so that customers who were apprehensive to try new tastes could relax with what they’re comfortable with. However, Early noted that it’s been fun to watch as people who stuck with what they knew tried some more foods – notably, new additions – and have found new favorites.
Food Farmacy itself looks like it’s straight from a Pinterest board, incorporating in some modern rustic vibes while still preserving the restaurant’s integrity. With wood paneling, metal accents, some green flora, and glass mason jars, it maintains a simple, yet endearing ambiance.
“We just do lunch,” Early reported, with the Food Farmacy open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for “the general lunch rush.”
A lot of local businesspeople come into the Food Farmacy for lunch, whether it be to spend some time in there or call ahead for an order. It’s also a popular spot for families to hit up on weekends, with their diverse and very affordable choices. Only the build-a-burger exceeds $10, while the rest of the menu items hover at a lower price. Their club sandwich and chicken salad sandwich have proven to be some of their most popular choices.
As for making the transition from just working somewhere to owning her own eatery, Early is finding it has its ups and downs, and noted having a complicated relationship with time.
“There are so many things I want to do, but I’m not able to get to … when the timing is right we’ll do it,” she expounded of future plans.
She and her employees have been interested in adding once a month dinners or maybe a brunch where mimosas are served. However, it’s still early to implement something outside of the status quo as she starts to get her feet wet and really get established.
However, she’s also enjoying the more freeing aspect of it.
“I’m a single parent and my daughter does competitive dance,” Early shared. “So the best thing is I can leave whenever I want – I can go places.”
For now, Early is enjoying settling into routine and understanding how each season works throughout the year in relation to Food Farmacy. As she gathers customer’s grooves, locals’ preferred tastes, and starts to brainstorm, she can create a better schedule and improved dining options to better serve her community.
So today, Early owns her own business as she pursues her culinary passion and manages parenting on top of it all.
Those with lunch cravings can find Food Farmacy at 1764 Main Street in Escalon and can call (209) 831-7863 to order or ask about catering.