In our age of globalization, when our daily consumption consists of goods from elsewhere, how do we define "place?" It is not that we as consumers are actively attempting to distance ourselves from the place we live, though it certainly loses its meaning when our culture is manufactured over a thousand miles away. The most sustainable, culturally significant places are those whose goods are designed and produced within that metropolitan area. More than ever, this applies to food and the value we attach to it. There are huge, real benefits to gain from taking a local focus to food.
Using Local Produce Improves Quality and Connections By purchasing the ingredients that go into your meals from an actual, local farm, the quality of your food is guaranteed to improve. Nobody prefers lettuce shipped from across the country over lettuce grown 50 miles from the restaurant, and the taste will be noticeable to your customers.
Two popular and useful resources for finding local farms to supply your needs are LocalHarvest and Direct Local Food, websites that connect consumers to farms in your area. Simply enter your location and the items you need, and you are likely to find a reliable supplier of fresh produce, meat, poultry, and other ingredients in your area. You may be surprised to learn that prices will be comparable to traditional restaurant food service vendors, and if they are a bit higher, you may be able to justify charging more on your menu for locally-sourced dishes.
Understanding where the food we eat comes from, how its grown, and who grows it goes a long way in putting out a better product and is something your customers will not take for granted.
Local Marketing is Big Hometown pride can go a long way in promoting your business, and emphasizing fresh, local ingredients will never deter a customer, only make them more interested. The recent focus on creating quality products is evident in nearly every market today. For example, casual beer drinkers five years ago are now connoisseurs of craft brews. Especially in food service settings, craft culture is being cultivated by the use of the best produce and meats, relying on seasonal offerings that scream variety, creativity, passion, and quality.
By taking advantage of your local offerings, you will not only be supporting the regional economy, but cultivating a positive image for your restaurant. Marketing your business as one that is invested in the local economy will show a return in the future.
Local Investment is a Boomerang If you are still not convinced of the benefits of local investment, take a look at this article from the American Independent Business Alliance explaining the local multiplier effect. Several studies profiled have shown significant direct and indirect impacts (money that is spent and recirculated in the same area) when businesses invest locally. Specifically, "Restaurants and service providers generate a large multiplier because they are labor-intensive and, therefore, more of each dollar of revenue goes to local payroll." The more produce and labor is sourced locally, the more often that money will be reinvested in your community and eventually back to your restaurant. Ambur is a proud supporter of independent restaurants, committed to offering point of sale software and services at an affordable price.