Supporting Farmers and Fishers: Roth Bar & Grill
In 2014, Roth Bar & Grill was the first location opened by Artfarm, an independent hospitality and development company. Artfarm reinvents unique sites that come with great stories by bringing together art, community, education, people and place.
We caught up with Petra Sulcova, People Manager for Sustainability and Impact, to talk about sustainability at Roth Bar & Grill and why supporting farmers and fishers is a central part of the brand’s identity.
Roth Bar & Grill opened in 2014 as an integral part of Hauser & Wirth Somerset and was also the first Artfarm location. Founded by Iwan and Manuela Wirth, Artfarm believes that the most sustainable creative developments weave together art, community, learning, people, and place. Roth Bar & Grill and other Artfarm properties are pioneering a way of working that protects the environment, invests in people and infrastructure, and supports communities by sharing ways to connect with their heritage.
“Sustainability is at the heart of both Artfarm and Roth Bar & Grill,” says Petra Sulcova, People Manager for Sustainability and Impact. “We work closely with local farmers, gamekeepers and gardeners to use the freshest British produce, with a focus on ethical sourcing.”
This is a business firmly focused on the future, with the goal of making operations as sustainable as possible. Management at Roth Bar & Grill understands that it’s the people who make or break a hospitality business, and is always keen to hire the very best – people who understand what they’re trying to achieve and can consistently push this agenda forward. “We have worked hard to find individuals who are committed to our values. Being sustainable is not always easy, so having the right people on board is key to delivering our vision.”
With this in mind, Roth Bar & Grill is committed to ensuring that employees are happy. “These are the people who help our business thrive, and we need to treat them well.” This ethos extends beyond the team itself, though; the roster of those essential to the success of the business includes the local community and people across their supply chain. For Roth Bar & Grill, this goes hand in hand with animal welfare and taking care of the wider environment. “We strive to foster community growth in the areas where we operate, collaborating with local farmers and businesses who share our values and who prioritise ethical sourcing and sustainability.”
Supporting farmers and fishers
When it comes to support local farmers and fishers, the business has an unusually high level of insight. “We are in a unique position, as we own and run a farm ourselves,” Petra explains. “This means we can ensure that all the practices in our businesses are sustainable from farm to fork, but it also means we have a deep understanding of how important it is to support local producers.”
With this agricultural knowledge, Roth Bar & Grill is intimately familiar with the daily challenges faced by farmers in their efforts to maintain sustainable practices. “As a business, we want to protect the land and the future of farming in Somerset, and we know that we cannot do this alone. By working with others, we can have a more significant impact.”
Communication builds collaboration
How does this commitment translate into business practices? Firstly, the team recognises the importance of communication, fostering a cooperative, collaborative relationship between farmers, butchers and chefs. This allows for menus to adapt and evolve with the seasons and with yield and availability, always with a focus on minimising waste. “For example, we ensure that the entire carcass gets used,” Petra elaborates. “If 40% of our beef is allocated for prime cuts, we adjust our menu to accommodate what's available and what's left, so that the remaining 60% can go into burgers, other minced beef dishes and our to-go range. Nothing goes to waste.”
Paying local producers very well is a matter of pride for the team at Roth Bar & Grill. “We have always supported local farmers and fishers and paid them fair prices,” says Petra, “and we will continue to do so.” Prioritising the welfare and livelihoods of producers in this way can mean additional spend, but also brings in more business. “It is vital to pay a fair price to suppliers, which obviously comes at a higher cost. We need to add a profit margin, while also keeping our food affordable for customers. Finding the right balance is something we’re continuing to work on.”
Luckily, it’s clear that their ethical and transparent approach to sourcing does not go unnoticed; Petra says their customers recognise this focus on sustainability and appreciate that Roth Bar & Grill know the origin of all their ingredients. “We deliberately choose meat that has minimal food miles and that we can trace through its entire lifecycle. We can share every stage of this journey with our customers; this is why our lamb and beef are particularly appealing.”
Levelling up and looking forward
When the team discovered the Food Made Good Standard, they viewed it as an aspirational challenge. “The Standard became the level that we wanted to reach, and the process allowed us to recognise the amazing work the Roth Bar & Grill team is doing and create a framework for improvements going forward.” They completed the FMG Standard in 2023, achieving an incredible three-star accreditation.
Petra considers what advice she’d give to businesses considering the Standard. “Completing the assessment requires teamwork, but it helps to dedicate one person to drive it forward,” she says. “Choose the right time of year for your operation to start the assessment, have regular meetings and set a timeline.”
So, what’s next? The Artfarm team is now hard at work completing the Food Made Good Standard across all their other sites. Undergoing the process has also helped them realise the importance of documentation and sharing good practice with others. They’re currently putting more written guidance in place to standardise and support their sustainability work. On top of this, they’re also calculating emissions across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 with the aim of setting Net Zero targets. Meanwhile, at Roth Bar & Grill, it's business as usual: serving up delicious sustainable meals that support local farmers and fishers, and putting smiles on customers’ faces.
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