From fat to fabulous: Will farm-to-table work in Texas?

From fat to fabulous

American Food and Beverage, known to the locals as just "AF+B," is a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas. It avoids the salt, fat and Frito Pies associated with Texas cuisine and focuses instead on farm-to-table food that can be eaten without guilt. So while you can still get a big juicy burger there, it comes from a grass-fed cow that grazed on a local farm.

According to Tim Love of CNBC's "Restaurant Startup," the farm-to-table movement has yet to really catch on in Fort Worth. However, he's said that he's rooting for that to change, as the movement focuses on the type of food he prefers to eat.

"This restaurant is exactly what I want," he said. "I like to eat clean food, really well-prepared food, very thoughtful food, which is what this exactly is."

If there's any downside to farm-to-table food, it's the cost. These ingredients are more expensive than those bought in quantity from factory farms, and restaurants pass the higher cost on to consumers.

"Doing an ingredient-driven approach based on local sourcing costs more money," said Tristan Simon, former founder and CEO of Consilient, the company that launched the restaurant. "You have to charge the customer a little bit more and you have to be willing to accept a higher food cost. And the way you make up that commitment obviously is on volume."

Otto Zizak, owner and general manager of Korzo, a Brooklyn, New York farm-to-table establishment that serves such Eastern European comfort food as potato spätzle and bryndza, has experienced this firsthand. He told that he has encountered high costs in operating a restaurant that serves locally sourced food.

"Our source is from the Upper Hudson Valley in New York," he said. "Angus beef is $8 a pound, compared to $4 a pound where they use lower-quality, steroid-raised meat." He said that the extra cost wasn't as important to him as "quality, health-consciousness, sustainability...cows raised in factory are fed corn, not grass, and their stomachs are not designed to have corn."

Tristan Simon (left), founder of Consilient Hospitality and Chef Tim Love of CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup”
Source: Liza Hughes | CNBC

Nevertheless, Simon told Love that he expected the higher cost to be a hurdle that AF+B could overcome.

"I do think the fact that this is food that by definition allows you to eat it more often and feel good about yourself, promotes greater frequency of use, which ultimately can sustain higher volume," he said. "That's sort of what the business model is premised on."

Love said that this premise would eventually prove to be worth it, and make AF+B a restaurant that would build a loyal and sustainable following in the future.

"You're going to take and allow a little bit more time," he said "You don't want to be the hot spot, you want to be the warm place for a long time."

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