Saying “No” to Plastic Water Bottles Since Day One

Across all of our restaurants – Founding FarmersFarmers Fishers Bakers, and Farmers & Distillers – we say “no” to plastic water bottles. And we’ve been saying no since we first opened our doors back in 2008.  

At Farmers Restaurant Groupeverything matters, including how we serve our water. We have made a commitment to provide all of our guests unlimited, free filtered water, sparkling or still. Just last year alone, across all of our restaurants, we filtered about 400,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of more than three million 16-ounce bottles.  

Why do we do this?  

Watch this video with Co-Owner Dan Simons to learn more about why we don’t buy or sell bottled water. And join us in yet another one of our sustainably-minded practices to do more good and less harm… for the environment, and for your wallet.

Do Your Waggle Dance. It’s Honey Bee Day. 

Every year at Farmers & Distillers we celebrate Honey Bee Day, a worldwide holiday started by a group of beekeepers in 2009 to build awareness of the importance of honey bees for the future of the planet and everyone in it.  

Honey bees have been around for millions of years. Not only are they the only insect that produces food for humans – delicious honey – they are also vital pollinators. Honey bees travel to approximately 50-100 flowers during one collection trip, happily pollinating them as they go. This work is necessary to maintain the biodiversity of our food. Without honey bees, we wouldn’t have the variety of food we all know and love. 

At Farmers Restaurant Group, we are always looking for new ways to protect our bees, our food sources, and our planet. This includes supporting research on honey bees at our urban apiary at George Washington University.  And supporting education efforts, such as our partnership with Sweet Virginia, which works to inspire and educate children about honey bees.  

We also love learning about these amazing insects. Did you know that honey bees communicate with each other by dancing? They actually have several different dances. For example, when a worker bee returns to the hive, she (worker bees are all female) dances to tell the other members of the hive she has discovered a food source, and she has another dance to tell where it is. The honey bee dances are called the honey bee waggle.  

This year, to celebrate Honey Bee Day, let’s all do something to honor the magic of the honey bee. Whether that means we buzz around to learn more information about how these amazing insects protect the earth. Or do the honey bee waggle to tell other members of our hives about how the pollination work of bees is essential to our robust food sources. Or support the efforts of other honey bee wagglers, such as groups like Sweet Virginia.  

And, of course, waggle dance yourself on over to one of our restaurants to learn more about what we are doing to support honey bees, and taste some of the delicious fruits of their labor in our food and in our drinks. We have a new honey source we are pretty excited about, Bubba’s Sweet Nectar, and it’s finger-licking, waggle-inspiring good.

With a Name Like Bubba’s Sweet Nectar, They Had Us at Hello

When we first learned about Bubba’s Sweet Nectar and the story behind their honey, we were all individually saying, “show me the honey.” Obviously we are excited about our recent partnership with this central Virginia-based honey company started by two friends who call each other “Bubba.” 

The Bubba crew wowed us with their honey, and we are happy to say we are now using Bubba’s Sweet Nectar in our food and drink. Their clover honey can be found in everything from our Founding Farmers house favorite, Skillet Cornbread, to our Honey Thyme Roasted Spatchcock Chicken to the whipped honey butter we serve with our biscuits to the multigrain bread we bake every day. Clover honey is also used in some of our dressings, sauces, and many of our scratch-made cocktails. For example, clover honey is a crucial ingredient to the tasty Farmers & Distillers Clementine Cooler, which uses Founding Spirits Vodka infused with clementine, Founding Spirits clementine bitters, lime, honey, and maraschino. Even some of our proprietary spirits use honey. We are currently using Bubba’s wildflower honey to sweeten our Founding Spirits Arroyo’s “Never Bitter” Amaro.

Bubba’s Sweet Nectar is 100% pure, raw honey that is not pasteurized, not ultra-filtrated, and doesn’t contain additives or artificial preservatives. They have two varieties: Clover is traditionally the honey most people use and has a light, mild flavor. Sweet clover plants come in a variety of types, are the highest nectar producing plants, and are the most important plants for honey production. Wildflower is a mixed floral honey derived from a wide range of flowers. It is usually a bit richer and tangier than clover honey, depending on the mix of seasonal wildflowers. 

The honey masters at Bubba’s Sweet Nectar are also devoted to the future of honey bees, and our planet, which aligns well with everyone across Farmers Restaurant Group. We are all big fans of honey and the hardworking producers of honey, honey bees. Our urban apiary at George Washington University is one of our most beloved partnerships. We are delighted to expand our hive and bring our guests Bubba’s Sweet Nectar. We hope you will join us in the honey love. 

Everything Matters

At Farmers Restaurant Group, every day we are working to build and run green, sustainable restaurants.

As a farmer-owned company, we care about the future of the planet, and we recognize the importance of preserving the land for future generations. This work has always been a priority in all of our restaurants, Founding FarmersFarmers Fishers Bakers, and our latest Farmers & Distillers, as well as our distillery, Founding Spirits. We know living sustainably is also a priority for many of our guests.

For us, whether it is our filtered drinking water, our composting programs, our LEED certifications, or paying close attention to the source of our food, we are always working to do more good and less harm. And still serve our delicious scratch-made food and drink.

As Co-Owner Dan Simons says in the accompanying video, “everything matters.”

From Farmers to Furniture Makers, Family Matters

At Farmers Restaurant Group, we are proud of our American heritage and the generations of workers that continue to provide the backbone of our country. From our owners, who are family farmers, to the people who help us create our restaurants, we do our best to honor and support hard-working American families however we can.

At Founding Farmers Tysons, Fishers Farmers Bakers, and Farmers & Distillers we partnered with Beachley Furniture in Hagerstown, MD to custom build some of our furniture. Beginning with professional architectural designs, and even working with some sketches on the back of a napkin, their expert craftsmen were able to cultivate our ideas into reality. Each piece combines comfort, style, and durability into unique and unconventional designs.

Beachley has been in the furniture making business since 1887, that is four generations of dedication to their craft. As you will see in the video below, they are adept at working closely with their clients to design and build custom furniture and millwork. We love the work they do and hope to be able to collaborate with them again in the future.

Field Trip to the Chicken Farm

A couple weeks ago, we took a trip out to the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country to visit the owner of Bell & Evans, Scott Sechler, and the rest of his team who supply the chicken for all of our restaurants. Owner Dan Simons and our Farmers Restaurant Group team – including Vicki Griffith, Ken Fletcher, and Meaghan O’Shea – got a behind the scenes tour of how Bell & Evans raise and process their chicken.

Part of the reason for our trip was to understand why Bell & Evans chicken tastes so much better than most of the chicken we have tried. As a farmer-owned company, we like to connect with the family farmers that supply the food to our restaurants. It is important for us to know where our food comes from.

Bell & Evans is no ordinary chicken farm. Just like us, everything matters to them. Four generations of family-run natural chicken farming is evident in everything they do. They insist on humane treatment, cleanliness, and food safety by investing in newly developed high-tech hatcheries and providing open, naturally lit chicken coops. They’re committed to feeding their chickens “no junk,” which means they are given no animal by-products, no additives containing arsenic, no petroleum or ethanol by-products, no used cooking oil by-products, and no antibiotics. Yes, this scary list is what most chickens eat. At Bell & Evans they are given an all-vegetarian diet of U.S. grown corn, extruded and expeller pressed soybeans, vitamins and minerals, and plenty of fresh well water.

Not only does this make for healthier and tastier chickens, the way they run their farm is much better for the environment. For example, their advertised “air chilled” process also says no to the use of chlorine ice baths most chicken farmers use, avoiding nasty chemicals and saving millions of gallons of water each year. This means they can use recyclable and reusable shipping containers because their chickens aren’t soaking wet when they are packaged.

Bell & Evans also cares what happens to their chicken once it leaves the farm. They carefully select their buyers, selling to companies who are like-minded and as they say “like-missioned,” to ensure their product is handled carefully all the way to the consumer, whether in a restaurant or from retail stores.

Of course, all of this work, and more, had us almost doing the chicken dance. We stayed hours past our allotted tour time talking and learning. We knew Bell & Evans was good chicken, but now we know why.

Curious? We invite you to come on down to any of our restaurants and get a taste (or two or three) for yourself. Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day (yes, this is a thing! And yes, it’s today) with our famous Founding Farmers Chicken & Waffles or our awesome garlic black pepper chicken wings; or visit Farmers Fishers Bakers on the Georgetown riverfront for a cold glass of one of our 24 beers on tap with our Honey Pot Fried Chicken Jambalaya; or perhaps you want to sip a glass of our own New York Vines White wine with a plate of our Roasted Spatchcock Chicken at Farmers & Distillers.

The possibilities seem endless, and we’re certain you will agree what a difference Bell & Evans chicken makes. If possible, we always recommend making a reservation.

Three Stars for Keeping it Green

Farmers & Distillers has officially been named a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant® because of our continued work to implement earth-friendly operations. This certification is based on an evaluation by the Green Restaurant Association, and our daily work to keep our planet green.

At Farmers Restaurant Group, our mission makes an impact. Serving scratch-made food that consistently uses regional produce, dairy, and eggs, and all-natural, humanely treated meat and chicken is better for the planet – and for you! We are working every day to do more good and less harm across everything we do, from how we build our restaurants to the free filtered water we provide to all of our guests.

At Farmers & Distillers, our meatless menu items, which amount to 25 percent of our food, require significantly less energy and water to produce than our meat-based dishes. Because 97 percent of our light bulbs are LEDs, we are saving enough energy to power 14 residential households every year. Our Energy Star dish machines use 40 percent less water and energy than most conventional models. Our recycling AND composting programs keep up to 75% of our waste out of landfills.
These are just a few of the highlights that earn us the necessary GreenPoints™ to meet the three star certification standards of the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).

Working with outside consultants, such as the GRA, ensures that we are doing all that we can to preserve the earth today, and help us look toward more sustainable practices in the future. Founding Farmers was named as one of the most sustainable restaurants in America and all of our restaurants are 3 Star Certified Green Restaurants®. To understand the precise ways we earn our rating for each restaurant, go to:

Farmers & Distillers GRA

Founding Farmers DC GRA

Founding Farmers Tysons GRA

MoCo’s Founding Farmers GRA

Farmers Fishers Bakers GRA

The Green Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create an environmentally sustainable restaurant industry. GRA evaluates participating restaurants every year using transparent, evidence-based certification standards that look across seven categories: energy, water, waste, food, chemicals and pollution reduction, disposables, and building. Restaurants are awarded based on the percentage of items that meet each criterion.

Farmers & Distillers: Thinking Green From Inception

Farmers Restaurant Group works with an ongoing commitment to being green each and every day. Our newest restaurant, Farmers & Distillers, is no exception and was designed from inception to meet LEED Gold Certification, which its sister restaurant, Founding Farmers DC, achieved in 2008. This means that our building and its operations are all resource efficient. We manage our water and energy usage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In working with LEED specialists, we are pursuing GOLD status certification based upon the number of points across several areas, including:

  • Maintaining our recycling and composting program, which keeps 90% of our waste out of landfills
  • Using Energy Star qualified dishwashers, fryer, and monitors, which are over 30% more efficient than conventional models
  • Installing low-flow faucet aerators and touchless sensors on restroom faucets which save water and energy usage
  • Using bath tissue, hot cups, beverage napkins, paper bags, and paper towels made with material recovered from curbside recycling bins
  • Keeping our facility Styrofoam free, which keeps harmful chemicals and litter out of our environment

The pursuit of LEED certification adds approximately $100,000 to the budget of each restaurant. There is no requirement that restaurants pursue this level of environmentally-thoughtful design and management, but for us it is just another aspect of the farmer mentality.

We are working with the Green Restaurant Association, and as we’ve done with our GRA certifications at Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers, we are continuing on this path with Farmers & Distillers. We are committed to becoming a Certified Green Restaurant® by June 11, 2017, which is the GRA’s timeline based on their audit process for a new restaurant. We will update our website indicating when we have received the official certification.

We care about the environment. It is part of who we are. We also want to encourage others to care about the environment. At Farmers & Distillers, the dining experience highlights how the restaurants are built and furnished, which we hope will inspire others to adopt their own greener, and ultimately healthier, lifestyle.

Join us at Farmers & Distillers. For a meal. And working to make the world a little greener.