One of DC’s Best Joins Trash Summit on Plastic Pollution

A small team from across our company took a day away from our offices and award-winning restaurants to join other local policy makers, business leaders, advocates, and community members to participate in an all-day, annual Trash Summit at George Mason University.

Led by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, this year’s focus was seeking “Business Solutions for Plastic Pollution.” Co-owner Dan Simons was part of the opening panel, moderated by Michael Berger of Elevation Burger, and discussed the ins and outs of operating a sustainable restaurant company for over 10 years.

Tweets from @aliceferguson throughout the day pointed to the lively and informative conversations, including Dan’s discussion on “the delicate relationship between mission and profit,” which creates opportunities such as “the responsibility and gift of educating customers on going straw-free.”

As DC’s Best New American Restaurant, we work hard to not only serve scratch-made, delicious food and drink, but also to preserve the beauty and health of our great city, which includes helping to educate our neighbors on everything we know (and do) to operate more sustainably.

Our Last Straw, the non-profit we launched over the summer, hosted an information table to share more about our efforts to build a coalition of restaurants and other hospitality-oriented businesses, local government agencies, NGOs, and community members to eliminate plastic drinking straws throughout the DC region.

“Even though small, plastic straws contribute to the plastic problem across the world,” said Dan Simons. “We see straws as an important gateway to eliminating other single-use plastics and an important part of our sustainability efforts, both within the walls of our restaurants and far beyond.”

Erin Chalkley, our Construction & Development Project Manager and LEED Green Associate, who helps us build and manage our waste systems, including running regular waste audits, also led two roundtables on waste reduction in restaurants.

Participants expressed considerable interest in what we’ve learned in more than a decade of running sustainable restaurants, which are LEED certified and have earned 3 Star Green Restaurant Association certifications, as well as additional accolades, such as our most recent Near-Zero Waste Award, one of two recent GRA award wins.

This all-day meeting created much opportunity for continued learning for our team. We are grateful to the Alice Ferguson Foundation for a lively and informative day of education, networking, and outreach. We are looking forward to a productive future working closely with their Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, including participating in this annual Trash Summit.

Chefs Reel in a Day of Fishing on the Chesapeake Bay

Chefs and team members from across our company, Farmers Restaurant Group (FRG), spent Monday fishing on the Chesapeake Bay participating in the 7th Annual Congressional Seafood’s FINvitational. Among our team members, led by Vicki Griffith, FRG’s Vice President for Quality Assurance & Purchasing, was our very own Farmers & Distillers Chef Richard Torres.

Team FRG brought home the 3rd place trophy thanks to Chef Oscar Rivera from our sibling restaurant, Founding Farmers DC, who reeled in the 31-inch award-winning Chesapeake Bay Rockfish.

The purpose of this field trip was to get to know some of our fisherman, our primary supplier and host for the day, Congressional Seafood Co, as well as learn the ins and outs of fresh fish and seafood. We also wanted to get better acquainted with our local waterways. The team met many local vendors and organizations working to educate our communities about the bay and its preservation.

Farmers & Distillers Welcomes Our Company Food Supply Truck to DC

Yesterday afternoon, Farmers & Distillers welcomed the latest addition to our Farmers Restaurant Group family: our 18-wheeler, owned and operated by our co-owners at the North Dakota Farmers Union. Our truck will be used to deliver family-farmed food directly to our restaurants.

The largest commodity of yesterday’s delivery was the wheat we use to distill our award-winning Founding Spirits Vodka. Known as the aristocrat of wheat, this Hard Red Spring Wheat is harvested right on the family farm of Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

Watne was there to receive the truck, along with Co-Owner Dan Simons and our Distillery Manager, Bob VanLancker. A few other friends helped us meet the truck as well, including Roger Johnson from the National Farmers Union and members of the Keany Produce & Gourmet family and team who help us distribute to all of our restaurants.

Everyone said a few words, and then we celebrated the big day Farmers & Distillers’ style with tasty treats, including our Crunch Ahi Tuna Bites and Sticky Pork Riblets, followed up of course with our famous freshly made donuts.

Founding Spirits was simultaneously hosting a tasting of our spirits, which now have earned four prestigious international awards. If you are interested in trying our craft spirits, Farmers & Distillers is hosting tastings every week, Monday thru Thursday, from 4-6pm.

Top 10 Reasons to Work for Farmers Restaurant Group

At Farmers Restaurant Group, our restaurants work because of our people. From the farmers who grow our food to the servers who put the plates on the table, we value our team and the individual contributions they make.

We are currently hiring for our Founding Farmers in Reston, VA. We invite you to learn more about a career with us in this video with some members of our team and check out our list below of our Top Ten Reasons to Work for Farmers Restaurant Group:

Money: We’re a business, first and foremost. The earning potential in our restaurants is high because we create an atmosphere of success, and we provide the tools and the leadership to help you reach your earning goals. Busy restaurants = busy servers = more $$ in your pocket.

Great Shifts: We are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and can offer flexible part-time and full-time schedules. Work early mornings, late nights, midday, or a mix of all three. Because we are busy all day, we can offer a better schedule variety while maintaining maximum earning potential.

Careers: We are growing, and we would love for you to grow with
 us! Seventy percent of our management team has been promoted and grown from within. If management isn’t your goal, we still offer opportunities for continued growth and learning through ongoing skills building and cross-training.

Drink: Our award-winning bar can quench any thirst. From handcrafted cocktails, local artisanal beers, sustainable wines, and scratch sodas made from fresh squeezed juices and homemade syrups, our bar is truly as important as our kitchen.

Green Restaurants: We operate some of the greenest restaurants in the country. Being farmer-owned, our philosophy is to operate and live sustainably while also better serving the community. Doing more good, and less harm. From our design to our compost program to our sourcing, you can feel good knowing that we make choices that help preserve the earth.

People: Everything Matters. Everything is Personal. If you want to be surrounded by the most energetic, dynamic, educated, inspired, smart, creative, hardworking, curious, kind, and caring folks around, come work with us! We want to work with you.

Benefits: We offer 50% discount on food and drink when you work, and 50% off for you and up to three guests on your days off, so you have access to delicious fare and a great price while others serve you. We also offer a special health benefit to our team members. As part of the FRG team, you can enjoy a discounted membership rate to LA Fitness ($29/mo!). Ask us about the details to learn more.

Food: Our responsibly sourced, scratch-made food leaves our guests wanting to come back again and again. You can be proud
 of every dish you make as we’re very careful about who we partner with and source our ingredients from. Cooking with us is like attending an in-house culinary school. Learn how to bake breads and pastries, how to make pasta from scratch, how to butcher, how to master a prep kitchen, how to larder, and more! We have a very diverse menu that requires unique skills and cross-training. Our kitchen is a great place to grow your culinary career!

We Make News: We’re in the Top 5 Most Yelped American restaurants, we’re the #1 Most-Booked restaurant in the world on OpenTable, we’ve been on national and international TV, we’ve received lots of awards, and we are proud of our notoriety and popularity.

Environment: Atmosphere and well-designed restaurant environments are a priority for us. We work with award-winning designers to create our unique interiors that are welcoming and inspiring to our guests, and great settings that work for our teams.

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.

It’s the Bee’s Knees Raising Money for Honey Bees

Buzz on over to one of our restaurants this week – Founding Farmers DC, Farmers Fishers Bakers, and Farmers & Distillers – for a taste of the Bee’s Knees. This delicious, Prohibition-era cocktail is being served as part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness and funds to support honey bees and other pollinators.

Between September 25th and October 1st, we are joining other restaurants and bars across the country in this year’s Bee’s Knees Week. Sponsored by Liquor.com and Barr Hill Gin, Bee’s Knees Week brings attention to the honey bee, not just for the tasty honey they provide for our drinks and food, but for their important role in our food supply and its biodiversity.

Join us for a Bee’s Knees and tell your friends and families (#DRINKBEESKNEES) all about the importance of our honey bees and other pollinators, and ways we can all celebrate and protect them this week and every week.

Farmers Restaurant Group will be donating a portion of our proceeds from the sales of this cocktail to the Pollinator Partnership, whose mission is to promote the health of pollinators through conservation, education, and research.

Bee’s Knees Week is just one piece of our ongoing efforts to protect the honey bee and the future of our food supply. We support research on honey bees at our urban apiary at George Washington University. We also support other education efforts, such as our partnership with Sweet Virginia, which works to inspire and educate children about honey bees.

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.