Eight years after he was diagnosed with neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, Tom Miller and his wife, Rita, opened a restaurant with hopes of promoting a healthy lifestyle to benefit their patrons.
With their six children grown, in 2011, Tom and Rita began looking for a new venture to fill the next chapter of their lives after Tom retired following a 25-year career with the Harris County sheriff’s office.
The cafe’s name is translated from the French cooking term “garde manger” and opened July 28 with a grand opening celebration Aug. 18.
“At Keepers of the Food, we’re focused on the integrity of our food source and making sure that all the ingredients we use in our foods are either organic or locally sourced, fresh and flavorful,” Rita said. “We look at food as a positive way to nourish our bodies, to prevent disease and to keep food as God intended.”
Inspired by the dietary restrictions Tom followed while he had cancer, Keepers of the Food includes a cafe, food shop and meal delivery service, offering balanced meals made from organic, locally sourced ingredients.
The farm-to-table concept serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday and offers dinner Friday and Saturday.
Breakfast tacos, breakfast platters, omelets and various pastries are featured on the restaurant’s breakfast menu while salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps are served for lunch and dinner.
Keepers of the Food also has 10 meat entrees and five vegetarian entrees, which the Millers said they plan to rotate on and off the menu on a seasonal basis.
“The kitchen can get quite hectic; but even with long hours and hard work, it’s fulfilling to know the customers are happy,” Tom said. “This is just our way of giving back and hopefully helping people realize they need to take care of their bodies.”
In addition to dine-in options, the cafe also has a meals-to-go cooler where patrons can pick up premade meals to heat up at home and a meal delivery service that allows participants to have fresh meals delivered to their homes.
In the future, the Millers plan to use land they own in New Waverly to produce farm-fresh ingredients to use in dishes at the restaurant.
“One of the things we really want is to raise our own chickens so that we can have eggs to use at [Keepers of the Food],” Rita Miller said. “We also want to have greenhouses so we can grow our own vegetables year-round to use in our dishes.”
The Millers said they also hope to begin offering catering services and selling fresh-baked breads, pastas, homemade salad dressings and sauces in the food shop.
Aligned with their mission of giving back to their community, during the week following Hurricane Harvey, the Millers donated 10 percent of their proceeds to relief efforts through Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.
“For years, I knew that I wanted a business, but I didn’t know what kind of business—I didn’t know what my purpose was,” Rita Miller said. “This feels like it is my purpose: to serve people.”