Celebrating Provenance: Redroaster Restaurant Group
Founded in 2013, Redroaster Restaurant Group operates some of Brighton’s most popular restaurants, including Lucky Beach Café, their two Redroaster sites and Lucky Khao Northern Thai BBQ, as well as their coffee roastery. Designed as an environmentally conscious hospitality group, Redroaster places high importance on sustainable sourcing and community involvement.
We spoke to Operations Manager Flora McTeare about how Redroaster celebrates provenance across its locations, sourcing policies and menus.
“We’ve always had sustainability at the forefront of what we’re doing because we can so easily make an impact. Our business can help spread the message to the wider population,” says Operations Manager Flora McTeare when we ask why sustainability matters at Redroaster. At The Sustainable Restaurant Association, one of our core beliefs is that hospitality businesses have the power to change the world for the better, and this is clearly reflected in operations across this organisation. “Sustainability is very important to us. It should be for every business, to be honest,” says Flora.
This environmentally conscious hospitality group first undertook the Food Made Good Standard in 2016. “Back then, sustainability was nowhere near as commonplace in the industry as it is now,” says Flora. We really wanted to make an impact and start setting some goals for ourselves.” The team was determined that their hospitality group would lead the way. “We saw it as a challenge.”
Food Made Good at Redroaster
The team found that taking the Standard opened their eyes to a more all-encompassing approach to sustainability. “When we first started, it made us question some practices we’d never even thought about,” Flora tells us. “While some of the pillars were harder than others, it helped us realise that there were lots of small changes that we could make.” She goes on to share some advice for businesses signing up to do the Standard for the first time. “Set aside time to do it, and nominate one person to complete it. It’s very in depth, so it takes a lot of preparation and work to ensure you get the best possible result.”
“As with most good things in the world,” Flora says that prioritising sustainability does require spend. “However, we found there are still some very cost-effective ways of remaining sustainable,” she says, noting that costs will begin to even out further as more people choose sustainable practices and this way of working becomes the norm.
The results of this hard work? Customers are impressed, “and it certainly makes a good conversation topic,” says Flora. This is a company that understands the power of conversation, collaboration and community; with this in mind, Flora is keen to see more accredited businesses in the Brighton area. “We’d really like more restaurants here to get involved so we could have a little Food Made Good crew. It would be great to be able to share ideas.”
What provenance can do for communities
Since the beginning, community has been incredibly important to how Redroaster is operated. Because of this, they approach provenance not just from an eco-friendly perspective, but also considering what it can mean for local communities. “Sourcing locally is not only better for the environment, but it also supports local farms, breweries, dairies and vineyards: small businesses that will only survive if they get enough trade,” Flora explains.
The business sources most of their main ingredients from the UK – 75% of which are locally produced – and updates menus every quarter to make the most of seasonal produce. The team finds that provenance helps customers to forge stronger connections with their food. “Customers like to have a familiar link. They can relate to the product better if, for example, the bread comes from a bakery they know,” says Flora. “People come to us knowing that we will be sourcing locally and really taking into the consideration the provenance of our menu items.”
At their coffee roastery in Kemptown, which is the only one certified organic in the southeast, they choose beans from low-yield varietals that offer superior flavour. The coffee industry carries a high risk of social and/or environmental abuse in its supply chains, meaning it’s crucial to be extra careful in sourcing coffee beans. Aware of these issues, Redroaster’s sourcing policies directly support Rwandan farmers, their families and the individuals involved in helping them to become self-sufficient. Working with a charity called New Beginnings, the business helped to construct a school in Musenyi, enabling 200 children to receive a local education. This is part of a wider project which has also included safe water, a community centre, farm equipment and training.
Back in Brighton, Redroaster partners with a local charity called Team Domenica, which helps people with learning disabilities discover their career potential. Through this partnership, the business now provides employment for 16 young adults in their cafés and roastery. Thoroughly involved, they now even roast their own blends and sell these under the Team Domenica banner.
Celebrating provenance through the FMG Standard
While provenance has always mattered at Redroaster, taking The Food Made Good Standard has helped to focus their efforts. “Once we decide we want to use a product, we’ll look at local options first before going further afield.” When they decided to open Lucky Khao – a Thai BBQ restaurant – this brought new challenges. “We had to think outside of the box on how we could make traditional Thai dishes work using English produce.” In the end, this meant combining local organic meat and seasonal produce from Sussex farms with quality Asian ingredients to create north-eastern and regional Thai dishes.
The FMG Standard has had significant positive impact on operations at Redroaster. “One of the things we’re most proud of was winning UK people’s favourite restaurant back in 2017,” says Flora. “That definitely got local people talking about us, and also started wider conversations about sustainability within the industry.” The effect behind the scenes has been notable, too. “It’s definitely made us more careful and considerate when making business decisions. There’s an element of ‘sustainability thought’ behind pretty much very decision we make.”
This ‘sustainability thought’ is easy to see behind most of their actions. Redroaster is newly B Corp certified – something of which they’re very proud – and they’re now turning their attention to carbon emissions. “We’ve pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025, via the SME climate hub. So that’s next to tick off the list!”
Read more about Redroaster Restaurant Group and their commitment to sustainability at their website. Learn why Celebrate Provenance is one of the 10 key focus areas of the Food Made Good Framework, or sign up to the Standard today to start working towards your own sustainability accreditation.
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