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Bringing Light to the food industry

Ronin restaurant opens in downtown Bryan by former student, Amanda Light '18, bringing a refreshing farm-to-table dining experience.

By Alix P ’18

Transparency and authenticity.

These are not likely the words that come to mind when thinking of today’s food industry. But this is exactly what Amanda Light, class of 2018 and former student of the College of Liberal Arts, and her family desire to restore to how people view food. Ronin, their new farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Bryan, is accomplishing exactly that.

When you walk into the restaurant at the Ice House on Main, you get a reflection of the Lights’ vision coming to life — an open kitchen and long, wooden communal tables. Six years after establishing their local farm, Amanda and her husband, Brian, opened Ronin in May of 2018.

“Our restaurant is a reflection of what we do at the farm,” Amanda said. “We wanted to connect the farmer and the neighbor, and rekindle the mentality of being conscious of what you eat.”

Long wooden table and white walls of Ronin

Photo: Ryan Price Photography

The business had an organic start. A friend of the family needed a caterer and hoped for something different than the usual barbecue catering options in town. The Lights already had a love for cooking, so they used their home kitchen and took the job on a whim — and the passion began.

“We learned through trial and error, and adjust the food to what is available and in season,” Amanda said. “We wanted to create a more connected, genuine product.”

Amanda began her education at Texas A&M University in 2008, and returned to finish in May 2017. She studied Women’s and Gender Studies, the perfect combination of her interests and being relevant to her roles as mom and business owner.

“I found it fascinating to study interactions with people,” Amanda said. “My time at Texas A&M taught me the importance of diligence, and returning to finish my schooling allowed me to see the value of an education. It was the missing piece.”

With Ronin, diligence and hard work is key. The restaurant’s ingredients come from their own farm or are sourced locally. Nothing is ever packaged or frozen. Brian, the chef, raises his own chickens and the staff helps harvest the vegetables used for that evening’s meal. The resulting food placed on the table is entirely authentic.

Authenticity is established not only with the food, but with the community that enjoys it. Ronin hosts full moon dinners and communal dinner events, where the meals foster connections that would otherwise be missed.

Amanda and Brian Light with their daughters

Photo: Ashley Monogue

“We love watching groups of people come to our dinners and befriend other groups of people sitting right next to them,” Amanda said. “When they come back the next month for another event, they’ve stayed connected.”

Amanda is an example of how a degree in the liberal arts provides useful skills in countless disciplines. She shared how applying critical thinking to a creative field is crucial for her business, which developed as she studied in the College of Liberal Arts.

The creativity of Amanda and her family produces a space that restores something much needed in our day and age — a holistic experience with genuine and transparent products. Their efforts leave people more connected to their food, and to each other.