Some restaurateurs are taking the locavore movement to a whole new level by giving local purveyors an ownership stake in their business. Agraria—the Washington, D.C. restaurant representing the 39,000-member North Dakota Farmer’s Union—made headlines with its 2006 debut, but smaller-scale operations are showing up across the country.
Roots Restaurant & Cellar
Even in the dead of Milwaukee winter, Roots manages to go local with the help of Joe Schmidt’s greenhouse on 4-acre Cedar Creek Farms in nearby Cedarburg. Schmidt co-owns the popular restaurant with executive chef John Raymond and offers inspired seasonal dishes like Bloody Mary Pork Ribs with celery-root salad and pickled vegetables and Soy Grilled Tilapia with cashew sticky rice, coconut curry and sesame-yuzu dressed pea shoots.
Grains of Montana Café & Bakery
All of the spring wheat used in Grains of Montana’s panini breads, pastries and pizzas comes from the 15,000-acre Nielsen family farm in Nashua. At such formidable scale, the farm should have no trouble providing the staple grain for the many franchises the company is intending to grow in the fast-casual market.
Montauk, New York
Here the daily catch of the six fishermen-owners is barely hauled off the boats before diners are savoring a lobster roll or herb-crusted fluke while overlooking the waters whence their dinners came.