Wesleyan's new R.J. Julia-managed bookstore will partner with Ray and Shannon Allen's health-conscious restaurant brand for its new cafe, the university announced Monday.
The UConn basketball legend, NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist and his wife, a Middletown native, will bring the cafe, titled grown, to the new bookstore, which moves to the city's Main Street this spring. The cafe aims to provide organic, healthful cuisine "with a level of convenience that makes it possible for busy people on the go to access high-quality foods at affordable prices," according to a press release.
The Allens' Miami-based concept, which first launched in early 2016, features wholesome choices such as smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, breakfast items, soups, sandwiches and salads, and proteins such as free-range rotisserie chicken, grilled wild-caught salmon and slow-cooked grass-fed brisket with vegetable and grain sides.
"As a Middletown native, and Connecticut residents, we are thrilled to partner with Wesleyan University as the new cafe in the Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore," Shannon Allen said in a statement. "We are collectively committed to sustainability beyond the kitchen, practicing permaculture and allergen awareness in a stunning holistic environment for students, faculty and the greater Middlesex County community. This new operation is distinctly aligned with our mission to change the world one USDA organic certified meal at a time. We are grateful for the opportunity and ecstatic to bring grown home."
The cafe also uses pulp-free and compostable paper products, 100 percent recyclable cups, BPA-free storage containers and plantable menus.
"We're delighted to partner with grown in this exciting new venture. Their commitment to wholesome food and sustainable practices are a perfect fit for Wesleyan," said Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth. "We think the addition of this healthy option on Main Street is a great thing for the people of Middletown."