Supporting the Community: OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie
Situated on the top floor of the famous OXO Tower, OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie has been a London staple for over 25 years, and cultivating a strong relationship with the local community has been fundamental to the business from the get-go. We spoke to Andrea Zick about why they place such value on their local community and how they stay motivated on their sustainability journey.
Conceived with community in mind
The OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie occupies the eighth floor of the OXO Tower Wharf, owned by housing cooperative Coin Street Community Builders. “Community impact was part of the founding principles, over 25 years ago,” Andrea explains. The landlord was specific about wanting a business that would not only pay the rent, but one which would provide training and work opportunities to the local community; would bring visitors to the area, which at that point was relatively deprived; and would consider the needs of the residents in the building.
Because of this, the business has had a strong community focus from its very first day. Situated in the centre of London, the restaurant is woven into the local social fabric: other businesses, residential flats in the same building, people living locally and the team itself. “Everyone who makes this community can be positively or negatively impacted by our business,” says Andrea. She notes, too, a considerable benefit: “By engaging actively with the community – be it external or internal – we know the needs of these different groups. This puts us in a better place to serve a purpose and to future-proof our business.”
OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie has been with The Sustainable Restaurant Association since the very beginning. When The SRA was founded in 2010, the OXO Tower team saw their ethos reflected in the Food Made Good Standard – particularly under the Society pillar. “As a fine dining restaurant that was rooted in modern British dining at that time, The SRA also emulated our sourcing and environmental principles, so it made good business sense.” OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie became one of 38 founding members of The SRA.
The business has since completed the Standard roughly every two years. “This gives us a 360-degree health check looking at all areas of the business.” Since the business will always have a community focus, it’s helpful that the Standard provides a clear means of communicating the value of this with key stakeholders. “The Standard brings to light the sometimes-intangible impacts of active community engagement,” says Andrea, “and challenges us to seek even greater impact.”
The team is extremely proud that they’ve reduced food waste by 50% since 2018, since focusing on it due the assessments in this area. “We were also able to gain investment for new boilers and kitchen equipment,” says Andrea, “as the Standard let us prove the energy savings of these would improve the businesses environmental and financial performance.” Communicating about their three-star rating has even given a boost to the corporate events side of the business, as many other companies choose to book events in The OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie in order to better align with their own ESG agendas.
“The assessments leading up to the Standard have helped us to win several awards and accreditations over the years, including the Most Sustainable Restaurant of the Year in the National Restaurant Awards 2019 and a Green Michelin Star 2020,” Andrea says. “The greatest impact, however, is in using the Standard as a tool for constantly improving, changing and enhancing the ways of working.”
Looking to the future
This forward-looking attitude is what drives sustainability for The OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie. “We look at our business practices in a way that asks how we can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” says Andrea. “This means we must evolve and innovate. We need to be comfortable in the space between looking outwards at what our guests want and inwards at our own practices.”
This is no mean feat, and indeed Andrea identifies the team’s biggest challenge as becoming comfortable with imperfection. “In truth, being sustainable could and should not ever be perfect,” she says. “There are tensions among the different spheres of sustainability – people, planet and profit – and these can be hard to balance when the aim is to deliver excellence across the board.”
As a business, the team at The OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie is aware of their responsibility to help people to make healthier and more sustainable food choices. “However, many of our guests see us as a place for that exceptional treat, the place where they wish to indulge and celebrate,” Andrea acknowledges. “Removing menu options that are less nutritionally balanced or have a higher impact on the environment could affect the guest experience.” Instead, the team finds creative ways to design their menus and their supply chain to offer foods that are good for people and the planet, while also being recognised as a celebratory treat.
Continuing the journey
Never content to rest on their laurels, the team at OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie is currently drafting an overarching food policy that will embed their verbal supplier agreements and practices. “We hope this will help us to enhance the dialogue between suppliers and lead to future collaborations and opportunities,” says Andrea. They are also continuing to work on food waste management, linking this to their goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across their menu.
In closing our conversation, Andrea emphasises that having an attitude of continuous improvement is important for businesses that are considering signing up to the Food Made Good Standard. “See the evaluation as a journey of iterative learning,” she says. “The process is more important than the result. Many restaurants and catering businesses want to receive accolades, but the greatest value is in the journey you’ll take to get there.”
Read more about OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie at their website. Read more about how the Food Made Good Standard can benefit your business here, or sign up to get started on your own sustainability journey!
Interested in a deeper dive into the importance of restaurants within their communities? Click here!
THE FOOD MADE GOOD STANDARD IS BETTER THAN EVER! HERE'S HOW...
- Food Made Good
6 REASONS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT OUR FANCY NEW WEBSITE
- Food Made Good
NEW PARTNER ALERT! BONIVIRI IS BRINGING FOOD MADE GOOD TO ITALY
- Food Made Good