Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s discuss why it is necessary to make restaurant businesses more sustainable.
As a sustainable restaurant business, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your operations while also playing your part in improving the health of your target audience. What’s more, any restaurant that markets itself as environmentally conscious is bound to attract many modern consumers.
Why Are Sustainable Restaurants More Successful?
A couple of decades ago, the majority of the chefs designed their menus based on what they preferred to cook or what their guests preferred to eat. Very few of them actually took the seasonality of what they created into account or what the consequences of importing goods from all over the world could have.
Nowadays, of course, the restaurant industry has gone through some dramatic changes, and their customers are a lot more conscious about what they are eating or where the ingredients are sourced from.
Due to this increased awareness, modern restaurants have started being a lot more careful about their menu items and how they operate.
The National Restaurant Association published a report that states how approximately half of all restaurant customers believe that the sustainability of a restaurant determines their choice of where to eat.
For instance, if some restaurant customers are looking for a place to eat that makes their meals with local-sourced ingredients, then they are bound to search Google for sustainable restaurants. If your restaurant is committed to operating sustainably (and tailors its marketing messages in this manner), you’re bound to pop up in the search results.
With that being said, we noticed the trends among restaurant owners and noticed a few things that are revolutionizing restaurants towards more sustainable processes. By reading through these trends, you are bound to find some inspiration for your own restaurant business.
1. Cook Only What Is In Season
You’ve probably already heard this before, but the top priority of sustainable restaurants is to make your menu as seasonal as possible. Sustainable restaurants change their menu items at least 4 times per year, and once every season. Most of them rotate a minimum of 2 new menu items after every 6 weeks so they can accommodate ingredients from brief growing seasons (like asparagus).
Some sustainable restaurants have also taken it upon themselves to change their menu items on a monthly basis to serve the produce when its freshness is at its peak. They don’t just do this with their produce, though. Even protein sources such as cheese and seafood are removed from their menus when they don’t have access to sustainable sources.
For instance, when squid or fish are in their regrowth period, they will swap them out for smoked salmon. By operating in this manner, you will have a certain amount of creativity and flexibility from your kitchen staff and the quality will automatically be worth all the effort.
2. Partner With the Right Suppliers
If you do your research, you will also find some restaurants that have partnered with a supply chain that has been accredited for their sustainability. Put simply, their network includes responsible operators and suppliers.
These suppliers take online tests to prove that they are following holistically sustainable practices and this often also allows restaurants to benefit from discount and sharing programs.
For instance, some sustainable restaurants have chosen a majority of their suppliers from family-orientated businesses. Some of these restaurants also make regular visits to their partnering vegetable producers’ farms to have a better understanding of their ingredients.
Just as healthy eaters tend to be interested in knowing how their fish and meat was sourced, sustainable restaurants can benefit from identifying and learning about the farms their vegetables are grown in.
Many sustainable restaurant owners support the cottage industries in their local communities. For instance, one of their suppliers could be an organic farming business with various varieties of vegetables and lettuces. They could also have another supplier for humanely raised and organic meat to source their pork and beef.
Granted, working with these small scale operators may require a lot more visits and phone calls for restaurants. However, the payoff of the effort is almost definitely worth it. You see, in today’s market, these sustainable products sell themselves and just a little olive oil and sea salt could work miraculously in showcasing the best ingredients in the culinary industry.
3. Grow Your Own Ingredients
Speaking of ingredients, you can take your local sourcing game to a whole new level by launching your own personal kitchen garden and hiring professional gardeners to take care of it. This strategy plays out as a great opportunity for restaurant chefs to learn more about how to grow ingredients such as broad beans, beets, cabbage, and carrots. This, in turn, gives the chefs a newfound appreciation for whatever they may be cooking.
Restaurant chefs will be challenged to produce exquisite dishes out of whatever they grow. Plus, another great advantage of this strategy is that all of their food waste can be sent right back to their garden in the form of compost.
4. Buy in Bulk and From Local Sources
Whatever cuisines your restaurant may specialize in, you should source most (if not all) of its ingredients from local sources. As a result, local suppliers will start giving your restaurant handsome offers because they know exactly how you source your food.
Also, you should try to make it your goal to purchase all of your produce during the peak season in bulk quantities (when it is comparatively inexpensive and at the height of its deliciousness) and come up with creative ideas to store it such as preserving, freezing, or drying them.
We highly recommend that you also limit those items on your menu that entail wasting these ingredients. If you are able to manage your online menu with effective stock rotation, you will be able to embrace seasonal items at a cheaper price. Once you see the benefit of this strategy, you will see how it is absolutely necessary for the sustainability of your restaurant.
5. Think Beyond Just Food
Sustainability isn’t just limited to your menu items. Some restaurants have also come up with the brilliant idea to partner with salvage companies so they can source old doors and skirting boards as well as reclaimed wood and tiles for their flooring. These restaurants were then able to allocate the money they saved here by investing in energy-efficient and better quality restaurant equipment.
You see, a restaurant doesn’t necessarily have to thrive on shiny and brand new items. By salvaging such items, you can add a certain warmth and welcoming feel to your restaurant. You’ll be surprised at how many people appreciate such a vibe.
It is high time that you start considering things such as water efficiency and training your restaurant staff to conserve tap water by closing the tap when it is not being used. There are plenty of examples of restaurants that have gone so far as to installing motion sensors in their hallways to keep lights off when they are not being used. As a result, they managed to reduce usage to just 5% to 10% per month.
Similarly, you can have a go at the list of wines you offer as well. Try to only search for producers that offer organic, carbon-neutral and biodynamic wine options. By including these wines on your menu, you might just be able to start an engaging conversation with your customers about the sustainability of your restaurant and what ideologies it stands for.
Here’s a Restaurant AppThat Can Benefit Both Customers and Restaurateurs
Sustainability is not an excuse to fall back on exceptional food, great services and a serene restaurant experience for your customers.
While it is the priority of your staff to communicate your restaurant’s mission for sustainability, you should start by offering them an exceptional experience before you can start that conversation.
Ask yourself: what good would be all the effort you put into establishing a sustainable restaurant when you can’t even retain quality customers? Well, we have the perfect solution for you.
MenuCRM offers a full-features web application that simplifies customer loyalty programs for small business and independent restaurant owners.
MenuCRM can be your restaurant’s website, online ordering system, CRM, restaurant loyalty app, and customer communications toll, all packed into one. By adopting MenuCRM, you will not only be able to increase your foot traffic and orders in less than 45 days but also streamline meal purchase processes without the need for internal restaurant maintenance.
So what’re you waiting for? Contact MenuCRM today to experience the difference.