As Ohio’s first certified green restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern maintains two core principles—to use local, organic and sustainably produced ingredients and to operate under environmentally conscious guidelines. Since the opening of The Greenhouse Tavern, owner and chef Jonathon Sawyer has opened up several other enterprises—Noodlecat, Brick & Mortar Pop-ups, Tavern Vinegar Co., and Sawyer’s Street Frites—under these very same principles.
Why source sustainable ingredients from local suppliers?
We truly believe that the proximity of the farm and soil to a restaurant directly correlates to the quality of its food. For instance, we constantly strive to source locally produced and non-processed ingredients at Sawyer’s Street Frites in Cleveland Browns Stadium. Even the Tavern Vinegar Company recycles by utilizing otherwise wasted beer & wine to make a great tasting product. The bottom line is that if you start with a better ingredient you make better food. It simply makes our jobs easier.
Has your restaurant been affected by the drought, ocean acidification, or any other changes in climate?
Buying locally means we really face the same hardships that the farmers do. If the fields are dry then that affects the amount and the quality of our product. If there is a storm or the lake gets too cold, boats don’t go out and fish. It forces us to work with the landscape of the Cuyahoga Valley and stay connected to the land around us.
What challenges have you encountered in trying to find local suppliers of sustainably cultivated food?
We strive to get as much locally as possible and cook with the seasons. There are some things that are impossible for our farmers to keep up with for our volume of business and other things that just won’t grow in our climate. But we make the best of it and try to find a quality product that was sustainably or organically produced elsewhere, or we just don’t use it. Peach season is short in Ohio, but when they’re here, they’re the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. You’ll never find New Jersey peaches on our menu, and you’re sure not going to find them in January.
What’s on your Sustainability Wish List?
We’re always looking to replace or modify our pantries to be more local.
The true challenge of being in the Midwest and partially landlocked is figuring out the proper seafood channels. The perch, white bass and black drum are all abundant in Lake Erie and we continue to utilize this source. Walleye is being over-fished so we no longer serve it at our restaurants.
How do you think climate change will affect agriculture and the restaurant industry in the future?
I’m worried about how it will affect smaller farms that don’t have the resources or government insurance to cover price hikes in the market.
Photo credit: The Greenhouse Tavern
More Ethical Foods Restaurant & Chef Interviews
Where does the cost of a meal intersect with the value of eating clean, sustainable food? Do we bring our values with us when we… Read more
Long before it was fashionable to do so, Piper cultivated strong ties with small regional farmers and their products, from heirloom vegetables and sustainably raised… Read more
Mixt is at the forefront of a new trend—eco-conscious chain restaurants. With casual lunch joints like Mixt embracing sustainable practices, green dining is no longer… Read more
Waterhouse restaurant in London is anything but a one-dimensional concept. Not only does it offer a menu that emphasizes local and seasonal food; it also… Read more
At Blue Hill at Stone Barns, “farm to table” means that the land you see outside the restaurant window is the land where the food… Read more
Restaurants with roots Restaurants across the country are now boasting farm to table fare on their menus, sourced from local farms or, increasingly, a farm… Read more
Some restaurants are taking the next step in local, sustainable food by creating their own gardens and small farms. Whether their gardens contribute significantly to… Read more
Kylie’s bijoux restaurant is located in the Surry Hills neighborhood of Sydney, a once down-and-out corner of the city that has been reborn as a… Read more
Vegan is going mainstream It wasn’t long ago that eating vegan was a difficult thing to commit to, and eating out was nearly impossible. The… Read more
On all sides farmers, produce distributors, and restaurants are gathering around the concept of local, seasonal food. Find out what it takes to get local… Read more
Chef Daniel Corey talks to us about seasonal menus, Luce’s green certification and the trend toward sustainability in the restaurant industry. Long before San Francisco-based… Read more
The US produces more than 100 aquatic species for consumption, making the management of these fisheries an important topic in both environmental and ethical terms.… Read more