Sara Fatell started Grassroots Gourmet four years ago as a small catering company out of her home.
Having come to Washington six-and-a-half years ago to work as a political organizer, she found baking a good way to de-stress.
“I loved following a recipe and getting this thing at the end,” she says. “When you’re working with politics and elections, you work all these crazy hours and there’s not a lot of instant gratification.”
Fatell would bake for office birthdays and for friends. Eventually enough people told her variations of “No, I’m serious — this is really good. I would totally buy this,” that she decided to go into business. She also sensed a niche for locally made products for D.C.-area non-profits tired of patronizing big-box companies for their catering needs.
She eventually convinced her cousin, Jamilyah Smith-Kanze, to join her as a business partner and they opened their retail location in November 2012 at 104 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. in the Bloomingdale/Eckington area where they sell everything from blueberry crumb muffins, Aunt Nat’s apple cake, chocolate chip scones, vegan cranberry swirl crumb cake, hand-painted sugar cookies and much more.
“It’s been crazy and fantastic,” the 29-year-old Havertown, Pa., native says. “We’ve done a lot of weddings and baby showers and birthdays for the same families and we really love getting to be part of their lives in a continuous way.”
Fatell is single and lives near the shop. Though she says owning the business has not taken the fun out of baking for her, one of her favorite ways to relax is having someone else cook. She also enjoys live music and dancing in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 18. While getting the courage to say the words was difficult, telling people wasn’t all that hard after the first few times. My freshman year roommate was the first person I had to tell face to face, so that was nerve-wracking, but she was totally cool. And my parents said, “We were just waiting for you to tell us” and they’ve been super supportive ever since.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Chaos was an amazing place and Be Bar was an awesome time. Now I find myself at Gay/Bash, Peach Pit or Where the Girls Go’s Over Easy Tea Dance. Missing She.Rex already.
Describe your dream wedding.
The one where I show up with your desserts and the table is dressed and ready.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Voting rights, reproductive justice and education.
What historical outcome would you change?
Thelma and Louise should have made out before driving off the cliff.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
My very first concert: New Kids on the Block. Thanks for taking me, Mom.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
The last few referenced D.C. food, “Mean Girls” and queers in the media.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“This is How We Do It”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Wonder why we didn’t spend that time and money finding a cure for cancer instead.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
LGBT rights are human rights, so let’s keep our eyes on the big picture, not just single issues.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I dunno, seems like kind of a bad idea. But if my family was on the other side, I would run.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That lesbians only wear comfortable shoes and have no fashion sense. My kicks are classy and I’m dapper as all get out.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Shaking hands, because we really should just hug more.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A seventh Lombardi trophy for the Steelers.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I should have taken a business class.
I love this place. Our city is a manageable size and filled with music, great food and lots to see and do. I love working and living in Bloomingdale and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.
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