By Stan Huskey
At Roots, it’s all about family, friends, and locally sourced ingredients for owner Avi Maman.
“I moved to Colorado and went to Vail. I loved to ski. I had a job at a pizza shop. The pizza was crap. It was horrible. You cant’ get good pizza out there,” says Maman as he begins to describe his journey from high school to ski bum to restaurateur. But he quickly follows that rant up with the fact that he knew he didn’t want to open a pizza shop when he finally settled on his own place.
Maman moved from Vail to Denver where he got his first taste of fine dining and the movement that is taking hold in cities and towns across the country, farm to table, working in his first full-service restaurant.
The owner, Kimball Musk, brother of Elon Musk, was then heavily into restaurants and had strayed away from his brother and their startup, Paypal.
“Kimball now has several restaurants in Colorado,” Maman said, obviously keeping track of his first mentor. He’s very much a visionary. He has the idea that he wants to support the community. He wants the money to circulate within the community.
“I was never exposed to a restaurant like that before. I grew up in a pizza shop. I didn’t know what it was like to work in a restaurant like that. I ended up falling in love with the culture. Everyone there had a huge passion for it. It completely changed my mind about what restaurants can be.”
And that’s exactly the kind of restaurant Maman wants Roots to be.
“Local beers, trying to get locally source purveyors, local spirits are all what we seek out,” said Maman. “We get our produce from DeKalb Produce. Where he can he gets produce in locally. I’m supporting him. Most all of my beers I get locally. My beef is from Jersey, my chicken is from Delaware. We want all of our foods to be holistically and ethically sourced. They’re all free-range animals.”
While the concept is a complete departure from the restaurant world Avi Maman grew up in, he certainly has not forgotten his roots, standing behind the counter at Palermo’s in Blue Bell, working the cash register when he was still in middle school.
“I guess I feel pretty grateful, more than anything. It could have been worse, right? A lot of kids now have parents who are in big corporate jobs and they don’t know what they want,” Maman said. “I guess it was easier for me to follow in my parents foots steps. If my parents were doctors, its not like I could go and work with them. In the restaurant business, I could work with my parents. Now kids go and get a bachelor degree in something and they never use it.”
His parents are still big influences in his life, and his two sisters help him out at the restaurant all the time. His mother is one of nine. All of his uncles on his mother’s side own pizza shops, except one, who is in retail. He has a clothing shop in New York.
As this interview was ending a woman came walking quickly from the back of the restaurant, obviously in a hurry, and as she was just making her way to the door Maman looked up and casually shouted out, “Thanks, mom!”
Roots Real Food, Real Beer 148 W. Germantown Pike East Norriton, PA 19401 484-681-9636