Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: should restaurants utilize local vendors? 

LGC attended the National Restaurant Association Show back in May, and one of the overarching themes we noticed was more food and beverage related local vendors were on-site. Is this a push to encourage more restaurants to utilize local products and vendors in their stores?  

It may be. There’s one key benefit to showcasing local goods at your restaurant; you’ll tap into a large pool of consumers who feel passionate about shopping locally. One study shows that “over 82 percent of consumers say they’d spend more to support local businesses after the pandemic.” Additional reports by Intuit also found that 70% of consumers are supporting local businesses via in-store or online shopping. And “57 percent of Americans say their main reason for shopping small is to keep money local”. 

Should restaurants utilize local vendors?

With these statistics in mind, we can conclude that offering local goods and products would drive in a customer base that supports shopping locally. There are a few other reasons that including local products on your menu or in your restaurant can benefit your business, which includes: 

  • Keeps money local and supports your community.  
  • Using more sustainable products is better for the environment. (Sustainability was a huge theme at the National Restaurant Association Show – which you can read more about here.)  
  • Shows customers you’re invested in creating a unique experience growing local business. 

While these advantages would have a positive impact on any restaurant, it’s also important to identify whether there are disadvantages to shopping locally, which may include: 

  • May be more expensive. 
  • Less variety or available selection. 

There’s another option for restaurants that want to start including more locally sourced items: farm-to-table. This phrase is used to describe when ingredients come directly from the farm and go straight to the restaurant/where they’re being served.  

Partnering with a local farmer to provide a farm-to-table concept is a unique way to showcase local ingredients without taking on the burden of consistently providing them. Forming a partnership with a local farm will garner the benefits listed above: driving revenue to your community, utilizing local products, and creating a unique experience for guests.  

If a farm-to-table concept sounds like something that would work for your restaurant, start researching how you can identify possible connections that will help you get this idea off the ground. Think about different options for hosting this concept – whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once a quarter.  

Overall, utilizing local vendors or a farm-to-table concept at your restaurant is a great way to drive business and show investment in your community. Consider how you can implement more local products the next time you evaluate your offerings.