By Levi Wright
Lucky’s will change its usual lineup of food for something a little more sweet with Cherry Fest, a three-week-long celebration incorporating cherries into its everyday food.
On Saturday, Cherry Fest will begin at Lucky’s Market, 1668 Sycamore St. It’s the market’s way of celebrating the cherry season and putting that sweet and tart flavor that cherries have into food.
“It’s a new program that we’re playing with,” said Jon Schires, the Lucky’s executive chef. “Lucky’s is coordinating and working very closely with our produce department. Really focusing on what’s at the peak of the season … and what a great time to play with cherries, it’s the middle of summer. Cherries do nothing but scream summer.”
Cherry season is typically May through August.
Each department will feature cherries in its own way, and some of the cherry options are local. For example, Lucky’s will feature a hard cherry cider from Wilson’s Orchard, an Iowa City orchard that opens in August.
Even Lucky’s home-living department is featuring a tart cherry juice.
Some other highlights include a specialty pizza, cherry salsa, cherry brownies, and cherry chipotle barbecue pork tenderloin.
“Everybody loves cherries,” said Kristen Tetrick, Lucky’s director of marketing and community. “It’s a seasonal ingredient that’s delicious, and it really lends itself well to a lot of different ways to eat it, so a lot of different options. It goes well with savory foods, it goes well sweet foods, and it’s a seasonal item that everybody loves.”
Lucky’s started in Boulder, Colorado, and has since grown across the Midwest. Its focus is on serving healthy food to the public with affordable prices.
“We want to make sure the price is there,” said Ty Medema, the Iowa City store director. “Our motto is ‘good for all,’ so it doesn’t matter what income level you are, it doesn’t matter what your budget is a week to be able to buy groceries. You should be able to come into our store and get healthy food and be able to have the option to purchase organic or all natural if you want and not break your bank.”
Lucky’s tries to make grocery shopping fun. Events have taken place in Iowa City, including live music. Also, the sip and stroll program encourages shoppers to grab a pint or a glass of wine while they shop.
“Grocery shopping shouldn’t have to be boring,” Medema said. “It should be fun. Everyone’s got to do it, right? So instead of making it a drag to run that errand, we try to make it fun to come in. We turn the music up a little bit and try to make it so you enjoy yourself while you walk around.”
Washington cherries are the first pieces of produce to be highlighted by Lucky’s this year because of their strong affiliation with summer and the sweet/tart combination they provide.
Next month, the market will venture into the New Mexico territory with Hatch green chilis, a chili known for its subtly sweet and smoky taste.
Later this year, Lucky’s might dive into peaches.
“You have great produce at the perfect time of year, and it’s difficult to make a mistake when you’re working with good product,” Schires said.