Salt, Fire & Time's Tressa Yellig had been preaching the restorative power of bone broth from her retail shop in SE Portland for years. Then with the help of her sister, Katie, she opened Broth Bar a year ago at 115 SE 6th Ave., and the response has been so positive that this month she announced plans to open a second Broth Bar at Olympia Washington's 222 Market. Eater caught up with Yellig to hear what's new after one year in business and to talk bone broth, a product that many people regard with side-eyed suspicion.
What's it like opening a retail space that offers cups of broth, which some people seem to consider watery cups of stock with an 80 percent markup?
I didn't expect it to be such an emotional topic for some people. From a business perspective, it hasn't hurt us, but personally, it smarts a little bit. For all the grief we've gotten, very few of those people have tried what we do. We think it's a controversial food because people still don't understand it. But we're trying not to give it any thought, because, well, they're not my people. For the record, stock and broth are similarly made, but the latter is cooked longer, resulting in a richer, stickier, and tastier marrow-laden liquid.
So what's that past year been like?
I feel like we finally landed on the version of the business we've always wanted to be. We do shipping, wholesale, delivery, and counter sales, and host a class on broth once a month. It's a lecture for geeky nutrition people and people looking for information to help them troubleshoot when making broth at home.
Our most loyal customers have been so supportive, and it's been really wonderful to watch their health improve over time. People are having positive healing experiences, and that's why we're doing this—we're doing it for them.
You've said before that broth is a key step in reevaluating how we think about food. How so?
In general, most of us haven't really been thinking about food as it relates to our health, and now, we're reconstituting that relationship. We're going to run into a few bumps, but soon I think more people will choose what they eat with their health in mind. Broth is peasant food at its simplest. When people ate back then, they had no choice: Their food had to be both nutritious and healing, because that's all there was. And I think we'll see that's where food will be trending in the future.
Even for the nay-sayers?
We'll still be here when they need us, too.
Broth Bar by Salt, Fire & Time: 115 NE 6th Ave., 503-208-2758; Broth Bar's second location will open in Olympia's 222 Market space in late-September or early-October.