Gather Restaurant Epitomises Local Sustainable Restaurant Business

Sometimes I think it would be fun to run a restaurant review site. Since I don’t, it’s nice to occasionally opine about the rare restaurant that not only serves phenomenal food, but as a business, takes sustainability seriously enough to get my attention. Such was my Saturday inspiration today at Gather.

It comes as no surprise that Gather, Berkeley’s latest hot spot located in the brand new, LEED platinum David Brower center epitomizes sustainable cuisine. It’s almost a perfect storm of cliches – organic, Berkeley, local, fair this, fair that. But it works, it’s delicious, and it matters beyond the food.

Why? Because a restaurant is a special kind of business – if done right it becomes a talking point for the community, and therefore an influencer to other businesses and society at large.

Being a reasonably priced, all organic, healthy and inspiring place to eat is one thing, and you can read all about it on Gather’s website, but it’s Gather’s power to inspire and influence that merits my talking about it here. For example, Gather takes the time to list the major farms they’re currently sourcing ingredients from on a chalkboard above the open kitchen. What if other businesses listed their main suppliers in a visible manner with a twinge of pride and artisanship?

Giving customers that extra knowledge deepens the personal relationship they feel with the restaurant and the sense of investment they feel has been made in their community. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s s simple effort to recognize a fuller relationship with stakeholders – and it’s a lot more valuable than putting up a sign saying “we care” at a local charity.

Importantly, Gather doesn’t come across as preachy or weird. They even serve meat (imagine that). By making it a matter of course that they’ll always be organic (not “whenever possible”) they stand firm on values that won’t be compromised – another simple gesture that ups their credibility.

At the end of the day, the impression one gets is one of genuine commitment, transparency, and quality. Those values are at the heart of sustainability and should be at the heart of any successful business. The french toast is also excellent.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.