Trying to pigeonhole Pasture and Plenty, one of Madison’s newest eateries, into one simple category is futile—and it comes by design, several years of behind-the-scenes planning, and a vision.
What is simple is the establishment’s mission of cultivating the farm-to-table movement and ensuring people short on time can still nourish their minds and bodies with delicious, nutritious meals. Christy McKenzie, founder of the company, says Pasture and Plenty has established working relationships with more than 30 local farms, ranchers, and bakers.
In a nutshell, Pasture and Plenty is a meal kit service, deli and catering company, sit-down restaurant, test kitchen (dubbed a “kitchen studio”), and hub for other local businesses to sell products. American Provenance and Wilson Creek Pottery are among the merchants with a presence inside Pasture and Plenty’s space, while the bounty of beverages—coffee, wine, and beer—are locally sourced.
As for the local partnerships, Christy says the concept fits hand-in-glove into her philosophy of making Madison a better, stronger place to live, work, and play. “I think it’s important to highlight and amplify the work of other businesses,” she says. “We all move farther—and faster—when we do it together.”
Pasture and Plenty’s evolution into its current 3,500-square-foot space along University Avenue has been a work in progress the past several years, and Christy says more changes are afoot as the business continues to evolve. A milestone came this past summer when the establishment quadrupled its space and assumed the footprint of the venerable Rennebohm’s drug store.
The seed for Pasture and Plenty, however, was planted well before the company began operating out of its initial 900-square-foot space adjacent to the former Rennebohm’s in summer 2017. Christy, a Madison native, has a rich background in food systems, their economic impact, and related policy issues.
With her University of Wisconsin–Madison education in the mix, Christy says she also found herself grappling with a deficit many people struggle with in today’s fast-paced world—time and balance—and the need to ensure her family continued to enjoy quality food amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“I started this business to solve our own need and hopefully help solve other people’s needs,” says Christy, whose personal and professional background includes time in Seattle before returning to her native Dairy State stomping grounds. “We knew that we needed and wanted to put together more of a community hub.”
As one piece of the puzzle after another came together, Christy created the business plan that birthed Pasture and Plenty. While Christy, whose resume includes a leadership position with the food-focused social network Allrecipes, is one of the pivotal leaders behind the establishment, she is quick to point out many people are responsible for bringing a sketched concept into crystal sharp focus the past several years.
“It’s been fun to work with such a talented team and bring vision to reality,” Christy says. “It’s been an amazing year, seeing what everyone’s brought to the table. It’s been an incredible group project, and it’s really been a joy to be a part of it.”
As Christy and the rest of the team of 18 staffers continue settling into Pasture and Plenty’s expanded digs, the establishment’s ongoing evolution is taking hold. The in-house eatery, which continues to pay homage to Rennebohm’s legacy with such original décor as the flooring, has a rotating menu offering that will be changed up from one week to the next. “The concept,” Christy says, “is by design and mimics what is in season and what is available from local providers.”
Pasture and Plenty’s in-store hours vary, and Christy says she anticipates expanding them in the future. The eatery’s menu includes an array of breakfast and lunch offerings, available for dine-in Tuesday through Friday. A sampling of the ever-rotating list of menu offerings includes bakery, other breakfast options, sandwiches, soups, salads, and beverages galore.
Outside the core operating hours in the morning, afternoon, and early evening hours on four of the five weekdays, Pasture and Plenty has offered a Wednesday dinner, available for dine-in or carryout. Meat and vegetarian options are available “for families or singletons,” according to the menu.
Across the United States, there has been quite a bit of buzz in recent years about meal kits and their place in the marketplace as consumer interest has moved in an upward trajectory. The offering has, and will continue to be, a fundamental part of Pasture and Plenty’s operations plan as 2019 gets underway.
Christy and her team offer meal kit subscriptions on four-week cycles, kicking off on Mondays and renewable thereafter. The pricing structure is tiered and offers flexibility depending upon the number of persons in a household. Pasture and Plenty has dedicated hours Mondays for subscribers of the service.
An extension of Pasture and Plenty’s meal kit service is farm-to-freezer offerings, which are available to all in the community—meal kit members and nonmembers alike.
Farm-to-freezer offerings include such meals as pastas, Asian-inspired dishes, soups and stews, and vegetarian meals. In keeping with the company’s mission, farm-to-freezer meals also contain locally sourced, seasonal ingredients with ease in reheating quickly and efficiently in mind. “I think this will be a big area of focus for us in 2019,” Christy says.
Another area of the business that is expected to grow in the year ahead is the kitchen studio space for cooking and food-preparation demonstrations and classes. “This component of the business,” Christy says, “touches on the desire to ensure Pasture and Plenty serves as a platform for promoting community.”
In keeping with the concept, the company has carved out the original dining space (under the smaller, original footprint) and repurposed it for a community room that is specifically being tailored toward meeting space and special events.
While Pasture and Plenty still has a number of areas of business under development or in launch mode, Christy also is taking a moment to bask at the road that already has been traveled. As she reflects, she says she is overcome with joy and gratitude. “We’ve been humbled by how well received our food and the renovation work has been. We are so grateful to be a part of this neighborhood and this food community.”
Dave Fidlin is a freelance writer who has a special affinity for Madison. Dave’s career spans nearly 20 years, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to learn something new each day through his professional pursuits.
Pasture and Plenty
2433 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53726