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Lupi’s Leads Local Farm-to-Table Movement

Lupi’s Pizza Pies turned 21 this year—a landmark birthday. But the Chattanooga-area staple reached societal “maturity” a long time ago, by helping lead the local farm-to-table movement.

All year round, Lupi’s makes its pizzas, calzones and other dishes using certain local ingredients exclusively, such as ground sausage, ground beef, whole-wheat flour, cheddar cheese and honey, says owner Dorris Shober.

With the summer growing season, more locally sourced items are added: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, basil and flowers. Some of these ingredients come from Lupi’s Flying Turtle Farm, Shober says.

“Lupi’s employees provide the manpower at Flying Turtle Farm,” she says. “It is a wonderful opportunity for any Lupi’s employee that has the desire to work at the farm. He or she may have always loved farming, or may just be interested in learning what it’s like. Farm work is every bit as difficult as restaurant work, but equally rewarding.”

Fresher, Healthier Fare

By purchasing local ingredients, Shober says, Lupi’s is able to serve fresh, good-tasting food that is not only healthier than it would be otherwise, but is also better for the environment. “This fact is important to Lupi folk,” she says. “There is no reason to buy green peppers that have been shipped across the country when they are grown right here in this area. The same is true for all locally sourced ingredients. In addition, we’re helping support local farmers.”

But local ingredients alone don’t make Lupi’s food delicious, she notes. That’s a reflection of the care taken to prepare the food—and more often than not, it’s made from scratch.

“Everything that can be house-made is house-made,” she says. “We make our traditional white and whole-wheat dough daily. All our salad dressings are house-made. Our fresh mozzarella, basil oil and balsamic reduction are house-made. There is nothing like Lupi’s Caprese salad or Margherita pizza made with local heirloom tomatoes and basil.”

Growing Options

Caprese salad is not the only non-pizza option Lupi’s offers. Over its 21 years, the restaurant has grown its menu to include items like calzones and meaty and veggie lasagnas. (The meaty lasagna is made year-round with local ground sausage and beef.) Lupi’s also makes its own Italian salsa served with house-made bruschetta.

Lupi’s physical footprint has grown too, from its original, single location in downtown Chattanooga on Broad Street, to four more locations—in Hixson, East Brainerd, Cleveland and, most recently, Ooltewah.

It also has a regular presence at the Chattanooga Market, which takes place every Sunday, April through November, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at First Tennessee Pavilion downtown. “Lupi’s has been preparing pizza onsite there in its food trailer every Sunday since the market’s inception in 2001—16 years ago,” Shober says. “It’s great fun to go to the market, shop for fresh veggies and/or local artwork, have a slice for lunch or take a pizza home for dinner.”

Lupi’s food trailer is also available for wedding rehearsals, receptions, parties and corporate events, she says. For smaller gatherings, catering is available from any of Lupi’s five store locations.

 

For more information about Lupi’s, including its catering services, visit Lupi.com.  

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