Yellow Springs chef now co-owner of popular farm-to-table restaurant

After serving as chef for five years at the Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs, Roland Eliason is taking on another role at the restaurant. He is now co-owner with longtime owner Mary Kay Smith.

“He’s an incredible chef and great leader,” Smith said.

She explained he was the perfect fit because they both want to be a team and be present in the restaurant. His great dishes and ideas are also a plus.

Eliason told he grew up in a southern kitchen surrounded by great cooks. He went on to study culinary arts in school and from there worked in many different country clubs, banquet halls, hotels, small restaurants and high-end restaurants before making his way back to the Miami Valley.

The partnership was intended to happen prior to the pandemic, but was put on hold due to the unknown, Smith said.

“COVID really taught us we are a pillar in the community,” Eliason said. “People came, ordered and ate and they continue to do so after we reopened.”

The Winds Cafe features a semi-monthly changing menu containing fresh produce and meats from area farmers. Smith said the restaurant has a long history with those farmers and Eliason has even cultivated his own list of farmer friends they are working with.

Eliason said he enjoys having a menu that changes because it gives him the opportunity to teach his team what they can do with different ingredients.

“It was always about teaching people,” Eliason said.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

He also explained he always had a desire to have an establishment of his own but didn’t know what it would look like.

“You work hard your whole life,” Eliason explained. “I wanted to have my own place, walk around and talk to customers and be able to effect change with the establishment. Grow people and touch people’s lives, that’s really what I like to do.”

Smith said if you were a customer over the last few years, you have already seen how Eliason’s touch added to the restaurant. She explained the restaurant has an archive of 45 years of recipes, photographs and menus that Eliason has been able to revisit with fresh eyes. Many of his own, original dishes have been added to the menu as well.

The Winds Cafe debuted a new menu earlier this week featuring Piri Piri Quail, Winds Fritto Misto, Italian Spidini with Bagna Cauda, Bao Chicka Wow Wow and other dishes.

Smith describes the current menu as one of her favorites because it features so much fresh, local food.

“It’s all that food that makes you feel really good about being in Ohio in the summer,” she said.

The owners said they are seeing more of their customers ordering small plates to share versus ordering a single large plate, allowing customers a chance to try a variety of flavors.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Eliason encouraged those who haven’t dined with them before to be adventurous in their selections.

The restaurant, described as a very casual fine-dining establishment, also has high quality wines emphasizing independent winemakers, artisan spirits and the best of Ohio’s local beers and ciders.

The Winds Cafe, located at 215 Xenia Avenue in Yellow Springs, is open 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit or the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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