SLO PROVISIONS: SLOW FOOD, FAST
words + photos by Kendra Aronson
Nestled in the up-and-coming MoJo corridor of downtown San Luis Obispo sits SLO Provisions, an all day take-away that specializes in slow food, fast.
Upon entering the tastefully designed eatery you are welcomed by the most gorgeous red rotisserie. The rotisserie is sleek and sexy—truly the Cadillac of rotisseries. “Steve [Bland] and I have been to France and Italy, and we always loved the rotisseries in the markets. We just had our eye on it! After a lot of research we found Rotisol to be the top rotisserie out there. Because we had a lot of time to build out the space here, we had the rotisserie custom-built in France and shipped to SLO,” says Dwyne Willis. If you happen to be first timer at SLO Provisions, you must get the special rotisserie meat of the day—whether it be chicken, pork, or lamb—prepare for your palette to be blown away every time. The rotisserie is clearly at the heart of this restaurant, as most other dishes—chicken pot pies, pork sliders, lamb stews— utilize the same delectable slow-cooked meats. “We are seasonally changing, each day we develop and offer a daily special that is consistent. There is always something fresh and we offer premium products,” explains Steve.
Proprietors Steve & Dwyne, originally from Georgia and Florida respectively, made their way out to San Luis Obispo via Atlanta in 2002. “Ever since we moved here we’ve shopped at farmers’ market!” exclaims Dwyne. Their seasonally-driven menu prides itself on farm fresh produce grown with care by their farmer friends. “We’ve been going to the Saturday morning market for so many years and we know all the farmers personally. It was so nice for our business because we already had all these personal relationships. The farmers are really excited for us and they want us to succeed, they have been really supportive and enthusiastic,” beams Steve.
Their concept for a gourmet take-away cafe with eclectic larder staples was dreamt up years ago. “Four years ago we took a driving trip around the country with the expressed purpose of looking at places similar to what SLO Provisions is now. We went to all the meccas of specialty food places,” says Steve, and without a skip of a beat, Dwyne chimed in to finish his sentence, “We had been following certain people and had been inspired by other speciality grocers with high-quality deli provisions and prepared goods: Oakville Grocery in Napa, Dean & DeLuca in New York, Foster’s Market in North Carolina, Flour Bakery & Cafe in Boston, and Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles.” The duo knew that their concept could work well in San Luis Obispo, and it has done so tremendously as they are already expanding into the street-facing space next door (formally Monterey Street Wines) on the busy corner of Monterey & Johnson.
They will continue to be open Mondays through Saturdays, and will reserve Sundays for special events. “On Sundays we’d like to do pop-up wine dinners, cooking classes, and Southern-style suppers,” says Dwyne. With the expansion they will also be serving local wines and small brewery craft beer. “Our concept is going to stay the same, we will heavily concentrate on our rotisserie and what comes out of that, and continue to prepare foods that can appeal to a lot of people,” explains Steve. The new space will allow for more seating and a more robust retail section. Existing pantry items include small batch syrups, artisanal cocktail mixers, local olive oils, uncommon mustards, and even their very own poultry seasoning blended in house. “We like to have local products and unique products, all made with high-quality ingredients. Of course we have some products from the South because we like to keep a little Southern heritage going on,” says Steve.
Additionally, SLO Provisions offers casual catering options for all sized occasions—wine tasting picnics, corporate events, book club meetings, morning-after-the-wedding brunches, dinner parties, and major holidays. The love, care, and hospitality is abundant and apparent with everything they prepare. “For me, it’s been really exciting to receive so much support from the public, we know a lot of people in town but what has been really fun is meeting all these new people. All of a sudden there is this whole new world that has opened up; these people are appreciative of what we do. We want to offer them the best quality we can and we are really proud of that. It was the concept we came up with and it’s really rewarding to see these people that keep coming back because they really love what we are doing—that’s been my favorite thing. I like meeting new people, and to create that bond over food is just so perfect,” says Steve.