24 July 2010

elliott bay café

When I was in Seattle recently, I came across a very good example of sustainable business in action. The historic center of Seattle in located in Pioneer Square and tucked away in a little corner is the Elliott Bay Café - which is most commonly linked to the TV series Frasier, great coffee and good food. It can be very easily missed if you don't actually look for it. Luckily for me, I was.

This Zagat rated gem is owned by Tamara Murphy and run by her very enterprising chef/manager - Zephyr Paquette. Zephyr made the time to speak with me about the café's principles. Her dedication to making a difference in her own way is obvious from the way she approaches food. The café features a small, carefully selected menu that is seasonal, so it is often updated. The food that is served is locally-sourced, seasonal, fresh and more often than not, organic. The beef is grass-fed, the chicken is free-range and sourced from small farms. The tofu is from a local tofu maker in Seattle.

Zephyr sources all her fresh produce directly from local farmers in the Seattle area. She makes sure that the staff are fully invested in the preparation of food and know where the food comes from. Her "teaching kitchen" extends to encouraging her staff to work on the vegetable garden at her home. She believes that supporting local businesses, eating seasonally and organically makes a big difference not only to the taste of food but also a huge impact environmentally. "It is a lifestyle change, it is how I do my job", she says emphatically.

This is an example of how independent businesses incorporate CSR into their practices. Zephyr's commitment is a testament that even small businesses can work a business strategy with key-stone principles of sustainability concepts. These principles of course are industry specific - the identification of where a business can create the highest impact is essential in order to act upon it.

The power of CSR is such that you do not need to be a big business with a million dollar budget to make a difference. It is the simple matter of analyzing the way you want to run your business and then doing it. Zephyr obviously engages all her stakeholders - employees, customers, local businesses as well as as part of the community. This rapport, is the key to all CSR engagements - it is not just what you do but how you do it.

If you are ever in Seattle, swing by here and see for yourself.

Photo: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©


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