Fresh, local food draws loyal customers, and a restaurant garden gives you a steady supply of the produce you use every day in your signature dishes. Gardening at your restaurant add some logistical considerations. You need a suitable place to grow your garden, such as a rooftop or a nearby green space. Once you work out the details, your restaurant garden gives you the farm-to-table advantage in marketing and food prep that makes customers drool.
Restaurants often have limited space, so adding a garden takes some creativity. A rooftop garden is a possible solution, depending on the structure of your building. Other options include green space on your property, a courtyard, a green wall on the side of the building, or your restaurant patio. Even indoor container gardening is an option if your restaurant gets plenty of sunlight. Once established, you need a plan for tending the garden, including watering, weeding, and harvesting. Assign the duties to restaurant staff to keep the garden thriving.
When you grow your own produce for your restaurant, you control everything that goes into the process, from the type of seed to your method of controlling weeds and pests. Restaurant-grown produce offers the freshest ingredients. The food goes directly from the plant to the plate, with no time to lose nutrients or flavor. You control the harvesting and handling of the produce to ensure it meets your quality standards. Because you simply pick what you need at the time, you potentially minimize waste by controlling your supply.
Customers want the freshest ingredients for the health value, flavor, and sustainability. You can’t beat the freshness that comes from fruits and vegetables grown right on your property. That on-site garden gives you huge marketing potential as a sustainable restaurant with locally grown ingredients. Brand your restaurant with a focus on your on-site source of produce. Incorporate your restaurant gardening in your marketing, from print materials to your Google My Business listing.
Your restaurant garden changes with the seasons, and that means variety in your restaurant menu. Seasonal menus are very popular along with farm-to-table dining. A restaurant garden also lets you grow rare and more expensive produce that might not normally be in the budget from your vendors. Growing those items yourself keeps the cost lower while increasing the versatility of your menu.
Properly installed rooftop gardens potentially protect your restaurant’s roof from environmental elements, while living walls in the side of your building insulate and reduce the energy required to heat and cool your restaurant. Gardens minimize storm runoff and create a filtering effect to reduce pollution. The plants clean the air by removing carbon dioxide. You also reduce your carbon footprint by getting your produce locally instead of relying on vegetables shipped in from hundreds or thousands of miles away, making your restaurant a green dining option.
Your on-site garden turns your restaurant into a destination. The beauty of the garden improves the curb appeal and ambiance of your eatery. Incorporate seating in the garden area, or invite customers to tour your garden to turn a trip to your restaurant into an experience. Host a special chef’s meal, with your executive chef walking guests through the process, from harvesting to cooking to the table presentation. Growing an on-site garden reduces your carbon footprint, helps control the food supply and attracts customers seeking fresh food to ultimately improve your bottom line.