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GTPulse: Spring Rolls and Rice Bowls in Benzie and Beyond

Something I miss about working at a Thai restaurant are the spring rolls. Unlike crunchy, deep-fried spring rolls that you might find within other Asian cuisines, the spring rolls at this restaurant consisted of cold vegetables wrapped in pre-soaked rice paper and served with a cilantro-lime dressing. It’s still one of my favorite summertime meals. Since moving up here I’ve had a hard time finding a go-to for this kind of spring roll, but I’m happy to say my search is over. Rolls Rice in Benzie County is serving up spring rolls and rice bowls and they’re using local, farm-fresh produce to do so.

The idea for Rolls Rice sprang to life while owners Dana Falconberry and Jonathan Boyd were living in Austin, Texas. They both were working full-time jobs but wanted something they could do together for fun on the weekend. Making spring rolls was something they had done and enjoyed throughout their relationship. When they started selling them locally on the weekend, it was a hit.

The pair moved up to Michigan shortly after the pandemic struck. Rolls Rice was doing great in Austin, but Michigan native Dana was ready for a change of pace. Northern Michigan specifically, is a place she had dreamed of living since childhood. Paired with the region’s availability to offer plenty of delicious, local produce, Dana and Jonathan found a perfect place to call home and for Rolls Rice.

They’ve picked up with the business where they left off. The Grow Benzie kitchen is home to Rolls Rice and is a perfect place for them to find easy access to the produce they use for their rolls and bowls, which is important considering that the menu changes based on what’s seasonally available.

“We change the main ingredient every week based on what the farm has available,” Dana said. “We want the spring rolls to be substantial and work as a meal, that’s how I like to eat them. So we’re trying to highlight one or two vegetables. My favorite is one we haven’t done here yet, it’s a beet and jicama. I think it was the first roll we made for the business. I love the raw beet and crunch of the jicama.”

Highlighting what’s being grown locally provides a fun challenge for Rolls Rice that has received a lot of love. Every Saturday they roll up their sleeves and get to work on making all of the orders for the week. Rolls Rice is done by pre-order only, which keeps them in control of the business flow and cuts out food waste. Ordering is done Monday through Friday on their website , with pick up at Grow Benzie on Sundays.

Starting on May 5th they’ll be at Left Foot Charley in Traverse City, for a weekly pop-up. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming pop-ups at Ironsfish Distillery, and more by following them on Facebook and Instagram at @rollsriceforever.


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