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.