Comfort food means different things to different people. Zack Trabbold, the executive chef and co-owner of The Local, wants to have as many bases covered as possible — sourced from farms within 100 miles of the new Fallston restaurant — whenever possible.
The Local, which plans to have its grand opening on Tuesday, will offer what Trabbold calls “elevated comfort food,” striking a balance between fine dining and familiar food that evokes nostalgia or simple pleasure. Depending on what diners want, they can spend $50 on a meal and drinks for two. But if they want a 3-pound tomahawk steak and drinks made with liquid nitrogen, The Local can also accommodate.
Trabbold said he saw a niche for fine, locally sourced dining in Harford County, and the idea for The Local had been sitting for six to seven years before he could make it happen. And though the servers, bartenders and cooks will be trained in and familiar with all the appurtenances of high-dining, the restaurant welcomes all.
“There is no dress code,” Trabbold said. “You can come in and eat in sweatpants and flip flops.”
The menu runs the gamut of nationalities and cultures. Classic French dishes mingle with homemade pasta, Asian cuisine and traditional American dishes, Trabbold said. The commonality between them is that, whenever possible, they are made from local ingredients, and always from scratch.
Trabbold said he wanted to source ingredients locally to ensure their quality. By talking to local producers, who supply 85% to 90% of the restaurant’s ingredients, he can see how the animals are raised and crops are grown. But it also supports local farmers he has gotten to know.
“Most importantly, it keeps our community flourishing and it keeps the local guy down the street able to feed his family,” he said.
The restaurant will also have a variety of drinks available. Only local beers will be on tap, Trabbold said.
Trabbold is an award-winning chef and will be travelling to Dallas in November to compete in the Food World Championship. He impressed Maryland judges with a catfish cake and his buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, earning him a spot at the competition and winning the seafood and sandwich categories. His chicken sandwich will also be on The Local’s menu.
He has lived in Harford County for about 10 years, but got his start in restaurants in his native Delaware. He started working at a family friend’s restaurant when he was 13, and did a little bit of everything before falling in love with the business.
Some of the proceeds from the restaurant’s Aug. 31 opening will be donated to a young girl who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit by a drunk driver, Trabbold said. Residents of the county have been donating money to Rylee Ham to help with her medical expenses through a GoFundMe page.
The restaurant will try to give to a local charity every month, Trabbold said, noting that supporting the unique community of Harford County was important to him.
The Local is located at 1918 Belair Road, in the former Pizza Hut building, behind Dunkin’ and Waffle House along Route 1 in Fallston. The grand opening celebration Tuesday will feature live music starting at noon.