When you think of a farm-to-table restaurant, what comes to mind? Is it a rustic, cozy atmosphere with simple yet tasty comfort food? A menu that includes references to the produce’s origin and how long ago it was harvested?
If you answered yes, then congratulations! You’re already on the right track to starting up a farm-to-table restaurant.
This dining option has grown popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. In addition to being environmentally friendly, farm-to-table restaurants promote the use of fresh organic produce.
Another reason why farm-to-table restaurants are becoming more popular is because they use locally grown ingredients. This practice benefits both the restaurant owners and customers since it reduces food waste, which is bad for the environment, and ensures that they’re getting food that’s in season.
But how do you capitalize on this growth? Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Define Your Supply Chain
It’s crucial to first identify the best suppliers for your farm-to-table restaurant. Start by identifying your ideal customer base and who would be interested in eating at your establishment. Then develop a list of local farmers that may offer what you need, but don’t limit yourself to these sources alone – many other potential suppliers exist across the country (or world!).
If you want to be more sustainable and environment-friendly, find ways to grow your own food. For instance, you could start a garden out back or inside the restaurant to sell excess produce.
If you don’t have access to any plot of land, consider freight container farming. In this setup, food is grown hydroponically, which means it’s without soil.
The plants are instead provided with all the water, oxygen, minerals and nutrients they need through an automated system that controls temperature, humidity and pH levels. You do all these inside a container vehicle (literally), so you need not worry about investing in a plot of land.
2. Create a Business Plan
Before you can get started, make a list of all the tasks and goals you need to accomplish. Some things to consider include, What is your budget? How will you finance your restaurant?
How much should you set aside for marketing and promotion? What will your menu look like and what kind of suppliers do you need? How many people do you expect to serve on a daily basis?
Once you have your business plan ready, it’s time to create a marketing plan for your farm-to-table restaurant. Your marketing goal should be directly related to the goals of your business as described in your business plan.
For example, if you want to start this business with a limited budget, optimize your marketing efforts with online strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising.
3. Create a Menu That Fits Your Philosophy
If you’re completely farm-to-table, then your menu design will only include locally sourced ingredients. You can either opt to create a fully organic or natural menu – one that isn’t heavy in processed foods and has no additives.
However, if you want to have some flexibility with what you offer, then consider offering a menu that’s close to 100 percent organic. In this case, you can include some ingredients from non-local sources, but make sure it fits your farm-to-table philosophy and is approved by local authorities.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you’re true to your philosophy. Farm-to-table is all about supporting local agriculture and community, so it’s important to remain genuine.
4. Create an Adequate Layout
The layout of your restaurant determines how customers experience your service, so be mindful in choosing the best location. If you want them to have a farm-to-table experience, then you should create an indoor-outdoor space that allows for seclusion from the noise of the city or other nearby restaurants.
If space isn’t a problem, consider having an indoor greenhouse where customers can get a closer view of how their food is grown. This will further the connection they have with their meal and your business.
5. Be Mindful of Costs
The prices you offer should reflect the quality of what you serve, but it’s also crucial that your restaurant remains profitable. Remember that when restaurants fail, it is largely because of low sales margins rather than high food costs.
To achieve this, you can start by choosing low-cost suppliers and growing your own produce to cut down on costs. You may even get a chance to work with food distributors who specialize in locally sourced ingredients.
Starting a farm-to-table restaurant can be a great way to promote sustainability and support local farmers, but like any business, it needs careful planning. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to creating one quickly.