The Family Secret to Our Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon

Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon has become one of the most popular menu items across all of our restaurants. No doubt, the recipe is a winner. But what lies beneath the salmon is critical to the rustic, smoky taste that pairs so well with the sweetness of the apricot glaze.

Our salmon is cooked atop cedar planks we source from Flame Grilling Products, a family-run company in Maine. What was once a business run out of their family farmstead has become a 30,000 square foot production and distribution facility in Waldoboro, ME, with a satellite center in Glennville, GA. They now have the largest selection of grilling and smoking woods and plank varieties in the world. Still, they operate with the same heart and values from their early days.

Flame Grilling Products receives wood daily from family farms and foresters from Maine to Florida. Many rural farmers rely on their business to augment their family income. Neighbors are accustomed to seeing deliveries coming in on old farm trucks and homemade trailers behind a family SUV.

Because of the family’s commitment to quality and the planet, their wood has always been harvested sustainably as they like to say, “long before sustainable harvesting became the buzz word of the industry.” It is not mechanically harvested and arrives clean and fresh, with the bark still intact. This extra care in harvesting is one of the reasons why their products are known for the best smoke and plank flavor on the market.

We know it is one of the secrets behind the deliciousness (and popularity) of our salmon. And we definitely think our salmon is delicious, especially with a glass of our crisp New York Vines White wine. As always, we work hard to make good food from scratch using sustainable sources that support American farmers.

At Farmers Restaurant Group, we know Everything Matters, even that cedar plank beneath your salmon. So the next time you are in one of our restaurants, take a peek.

Straw Switcheroos & Strategies for More Sustainable Sipping

At Farmers Restaurant Group, we are excited to announce we have taken another step to do more good and less harm for the earth and so many of its beautiful creatures.

From now on, we’re implementing an entirely new straw program for our beverages. When you order a drink in one of our restaurants, we will be serving up two earth-friendly options. Some of our drinks will come without straws because, frankly, we realized they don’t need them. And some of our drinks will come with our new paper straws.

We have made the switch to Aardvark paper straws, which are both eco-friendly and biodegradable. Made in the U.S., Aardvark straws are BPA free, FDA approved, and decompose in just 45-60 days. That’s a whole lot of good news for the earth and everyone on it.

“Even though straws are small, they are causing massive pollution problems,” says Co-Owner Dan Simons. “In the U.S. alone, we use over 500 million plastic straws EVERY DAY. That’s a lot of trash, much of which ends up littering our waterways, oceans, and shorelines. If the straw pollution problem is news to you, do a quick online search to find work around the globe encouraging changes to our straw sipping habits. And if you haven’t seen the video of the poor sea turtle with the cocktail straw stuck in his nose, Google that too. It’s heartbreaking. In our restaurants, we are making this switch so we don’t participate in all of the hazards associated with using plastic straws, and to bring more awareness to the global straw use problem.”

Preventing straw pollution has been part of our earth-friendly practices for a long time. Prior to this week’s change, we were using compostable straws. While a much better choice than standard plastic straws, if they get thrown away as trash they act like plastic. They don’t break down like they do in the compost facility. With paper straws, they decompose wherever they end up.

Our new program has one caveat: we’re still looking for a solution for the long straws we serve with our shared drinks. These plastic straws will continue to get recycled until we can find an alternative.

Everyday, across all of our restaurants, we’re committed to reducing our use of plastics. This is why we have always served filtered water, instead of selling plastic water bottles, and why we are now serving paper straws, or no straws at all, when we think they aren’t needed. Of course, we will make our paper straws available for all of our drinks if our guests want or need them.

So, come on down for one of our tasty beverages and join us in our straw switcheroo and strategy. Let’s all work together – one straw at a time — to make the earth a little bit cleaner and safer for everyone on it.

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.