Beyond Chipotle – Organic Food Offerings Continue to Grow and Thrive

Organic fast food appears to be a viable business option and is growing fast as demonstrated by the chain, Organic To Go’s expansion from the West to the East, this month announcing its 5th caf√© and a catering business to be active in Washington D.C. It is a public company with more than 34 cafes in Seattle, Los Angeles (including at the airport – frequent flyers take note!), San Diego and Washington. While basically a penny stock (OTGO.OB) their second-quarter revenue increased about 56% to $6million over same quarter last year, and in a soft economy none the less.
Those growth numbers are supported by a recent poll from the National Restaurant Association which found that 68% of adults 18-24 say they are willing to pay more for food that was grown or raised in an organic or environmentally friendly way, compared with 48% of adults 65 and older.

The fact that a public company would consider the timing right for organic fast food in Washington is encouraging. However, it is important to remember that organic is not all there is to being a green or sustainable business. A few months back, Triple Pundit presented a number of fundamentals needed for a restaurant to be green. Unfortunately, so far Organic To Go does not appear to be implementing many of these practices, but emphasizing and serving only organic food is a good start. Nicolas Jammet, a co-owner of Sweetgreen, another organic restaurant in D.C. which does include more sustainability-minded practices and is also expanding, believes the growing organic restaurant competition can only be a good thing, “There is a lot of room for these kinds of concepts, and we welcome them because it expands overall interest.” (from Washington Post)
And beyond good customer health, who knows how much influence these restaurants could have? Perhaps whichever party is in control in D.C. come January might be a little more inclined to support organic farm policy if they keep running into tasty, healthy, organic sandwich options for their power lunches.

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