A new café with a decidedly organic and holistic approach to food service opened this month in the Center for Molecular Medicine, marking the first on-campus eatery north of the Joe Crowley Student Union.
Pathways, operated by Gino “The Soup Man” Scala and his wife Juli, features breakfast and lunch items that are organic, eco-friendly and whenever possible offered in gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan options.
“We find the cleanest products available and are not willing to compromise on that,” said Juli. “We are trying to offer something different, unique and healthy.”
According to the menu, all produce is pesticide-free and the meat products are all-natural, preservative-free and without hormones or antibiotics.
Open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pathways caters to early risers coming to work who want to pick up a bagel, breakfast burrito, egg-and-cheese panini or tofu vegan wrap and a cup of brewed coffee, espresso, tea, a smoothie or iced latte before heading to the office.
Food is available in premade “grab-n-go” or made-to-order options and a few tables are set up in the lobby of the Center for Molecular Medicine for those wanting to take a few more minutes to eat.
Business has been brisk in the first week of operations, according to Juli. “We had 75 percent return customers in the first few days and are getting good feedback from them.”
Stefanie Scoppettone, development director for the division of health sciences, was very complimentary of the food upon her first visit to the cafe for lunch. “It’s so good I can’t believe it is healthy,” she said.
Pat Romney, from the office of admissions and student affairs at the School of Medicine, said the homemade, fresh tomato soup reminded her of her grandmother’s version.
Her colleague Cathy Four was a little more direct. “When I wear it, it means I really like it,” she said.
Tomatoes for soups, salads and sandwiches are grown in the Scala’s hydroponic greenhouse in Reno as cucumbers and broccoli used in the salads will be in the near future.
The Scalas use local suppliers including Blind Dog Coffee, 5th Street Bakehouse, Truckee Sourdough, Davidson’s Teas and Truckee Bagel, to offer customers fresh choices in their bread, tea and coffee selections.
Offered the opportunity to open their first store-front cafe in the Center for Molecular Medicine, the Scalas jumped at the chance to be part of a new experience.
“Gino has been selling food products to the University for 23 years, so Chartwells (management) asked him to be part of this,” Juli said.
Gino develops the soup recipes and makes fresh batches daily. Twelve soups are on the menu, with tomato being the daily constant and 11 others from “vegistroni” to pumpkin seed and hemp making the other rotation each day. Cold soups will be offered in the summer months.
The most popular sandwich is the “Thanksgiving” with turkey, herbed stuffing, cranberry aioli, havarti cheese, tomatoes and leafy greens served on breads ranging from Dutch crunch to whole wheat.
Sandwiches are served hot, cold or panini style in whole- and half-size servings. Other sandwiches include a grilled three-cheese, tuna, a hickory smoked honey ham and the “veghead” with grilled eggplant, roasted peppers, red onions, greens, provolone cheese and pesto aioli.
A combo is available with a choice of any two: small soup, small salad and half sandwich. An old-fashioned comfort food staple combo of grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup is a customer favorite.
Coleman hot dogs, which are all natural beef franks with no nitrites or nitrates, are served as are vegan hot dogs.
The Scalas are very at-ease discussing their food service philosophy with customers and are proud of the healthful options Pathways offers.
“We have a sacred commerce philosophy which means we take care of our customers by taking care of our employees in order to create an experience for our customers,” Juli said. “We nurture our employees to take care of our customers. Our employees make this place run.”
Pathways offers pick-up orders and catering options for special events. Call 784-1380 for more information.