(Re)introducing: Dusty & Julia 2/24/2021

Quick things:


Happy gorgeous day, folks! Holy cow, I can’t believe how warm and beautiful it was today. I would say it’s starting to feel like we’re out of the woods, but Pennsylvania sure does love to throw a snowstorm at us just when we’ve let our guard down, so…I’m gonna try not to jinx it.

It, um, feels pretty weird to introduce myself given that I’ve been prattling away at you this whole time, but fully half of our newsletter subscribers are new in the past year, so I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not so silly. And the subject line says that’s what we’re doing today, so I better get to it.

That’s me, Julia James. I grew up on the west shore, attended The Circle School for most of that time, spent my early adulthood in Massachusetts, California, and Maryland, and have been living in the ‘burg for the past nine-ish years (plus one round of city living prior to that). I’m a writer at heart and maybe an accountant by brain. I went to school for the writing thing, wound up in a Business Manager thing at The Circle School, and had just started to take classes for the accounting thing when the opportunity to do the Radish & Rye thing presented itself and it turned out that apparently I’m a grocer in my soul.

I also, of course, love food. I love cooking it and eating it. I love learning about how it’s grown and how other people eat it. I love that it can bring us together and comfort us when we’re alone. I love that it is so mundane and necessary and yet can also be so transcendent. I love it.

And I love this city. I love the river, I love the community that feels more like village than urban center, I love our restaurants and our Market, and I love the passion and love that so many people are pouring into it.

When I was in my last year of college, a few moons ago now, I thought maybe I’d like to be a food writer, or maybe I’d like to move to Harrisburg and try to do something to make the city a better place.

I feel lucky every day that both things are part of my life. I don’t think I ever in a million years would have identified this as my path, but it feels like what I was born to do. Thanks for letting me do it. 🙂

The other subject of this email is also the other love of my life — my husband, Dusty James.

Dusty didn’t write anything to introduce himself, so I’m going to try to do it for him. Dusty also grew up on the west shore, spent much of his early adulthood working in restaurant kitchens, traipsing around the country (including some stints in Alaska), and learning carpentry and plumbing and a host of other useful skills. Dusty’s been in the city for something like fifteen years now. When I met him and up until we dove into R&R, he was mostly doing commercial construction, including a couple of restaurants — experience that has been invaluable to us over the past two years.

Side note: He’d probably want me to point out that while doing nearly all the work on the store ourselves means the project has taken longer than expected (I mean, that’s not the only thing that’s caused delays…), it also means that between that and the USDA grant we received, we’re able to go into this with very little debt — which in turn means that we don’t have to factor that debt service into our prices, furthering our goal of offering high quality food at the most accessible prices possible. We think the trade-off is worth it.

I should mention that Dusty’s also got more than a passing interest in economics and markets. He listens to podcasts whenever it’s not socially inappropriate to do so, about economics, politics, and food. And he cooks. He’s a master at throwing together a delicious meal with whatever’s in the kitchen, and he loves doing more focused experiments — what happens if you roast fermented root vegetables? what if you adjust the hydration level of this loaf of bread by 5% in each direction? what if you raise the oven temperature by 25 degrees? what if you lower it? Anyway!

Dusty and I have been married for almost eight years, and we’ve been at this for almost six — we’d been married just under two years when we started. It’s hard for me to remember what we’d envisioned our life together was going to be like, but I feel pretty sure it wasn’t as good as this one.

Ostensibly these introductions have been for you, but even though I spend many of my days with the folks you’ve met (or re-met) over the past few weeks, I have really enjoyed taking a moment to think about each of them as individuals. It’s been an opportunity to spend a few minutes each week in gratitude — because I am so thankful for all of them — for Elliot and Lara, Bronwen and Jon, Mike and Maya, and yes, for Dusty. They have worked so hard over the past weeks and months to not just keep us going but to keep us moving forward. It has been (and is) a wonderful experience.

I’m so excited for you to meet them for real!