Written by Jim Murphy | Photos by Anthony Harden
The moral of the Roots and Branches story could well be a warning: Be careful what you wish for. But it could also be a prediction: There’s always another version ahead of you.
Clark Mitchell and his wife left a successful business and pulled up stakes, travelled 700 miles to Asheville, established another successful business, and were living the dream. Then…
The journey to the Mitchell’s Roots And Branches began in 2001. “Just after 9/11,” Clark says. He had opened Be Green, a vegetarian restaurant in Belmar, New Jersey. “I was in no way qualified to open this restaurant,” he says. “Looking back, it seems insane. But it became wildly successful.”
Five years later, a friend introduced him to Ana Camarotti, a graduate student at Monmouth University. She soon became his business partner. “I kidnapped her from grad school,” he says. And the following year, 2007, they made the three-mile journey up the coast to Clark’s hometown, Asbury Park, where they opened Twisted Tree, another restaurant focusing on vegetarian fare.
(When he mentions Asbury Park, the automatic response is to ask if Bruce Springsteen ever dropped in. “Yep. A friend brought him in to meet me. He came back more than once,” Clark says. But with characteristic diffidence, he adds, “I wouldn’t say I know him.”)
Twisted Tree quickly sprouted into a popular destination, earning a review in The New York Times.
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