Local ingredient trend spreads
By Wendy Culverwell, Business Journal staff writer
Business Journal staff writer
Hotlips Pizza's David Yudkin inspects a lettuce delivery.
Portland-area restaurateurs are watching warily as national chains rush to highlight local ingredients on their menus.
Portland has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to using local, sustainably grown foods. Many of the area's locally based, mid-sized operators — Burgerville, Shari's, Hotlips Pizza, for instance — have long sourced everything from beef to lettuce to berries from regional farms.
Now national restaurant chains are getting in on the action. In November, Nations Restaurant News reported that Chipotle plans to feature locally sourced ingredients at all of its 1,000-plus locations.
Portland operators worry it will strain the supply chain, but ultimately welcome anything that strengthens local agriculture.
Jeff Harvey, president of Vancouver-based Burgerville, owned by The Holland Inc., said competing with companies like Chipotle is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to keeping local ingredients on the menu.
Burgerville, which built its reputation on Northwest ingredients and has a decade-long history of developing vendor relationships. Today, about 70 percent of items sold at its 39 restaurants are based ingredients grown in the Northwest. The company recorded about $45 million in revenue last year.
Harvey said Burgerville’s long-term relationships with vendors such as Country Natural Beef will help ensure its restaurants are stocked with what they need. Country Natural Beef, a cooperative brand produced by 120 ranchers spanning 12 states, is based in Vale, Ore. It entered into an agreement with Chipotle earlier this year to supply the chain with locally raised beef.
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