While a growing number of healthy farm-to-table restaurants and food stores are opening in the United States, a new approach has the potential to grow from coast to coast through the cultivation of a unique organic supplier network.
The brainchild of Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems, Gentle Harvest offers organic and locally sourced foods: a full meat case, deli counter, cheese case, hot prepared foods, a soda fountain and fast foods prepared from scratch in its in-store kitchen. Prices are low: Organic burgers start at $5.
It also features a high-end coffee bar, a small bar serving craft beers and wines, a wine/craft beer shop and a café, as well as health and beauty aids and packaged groceries. The 3,500-square-foot space includes seating for about 30 people with free internet access in an upstairs lounge, plus about 16 seats downstairs.
“We’ve spent years helping local farmers make their farms organic,” says Operations Manager Sully Callahan, “and we work with them to ensure that everything is done exactly as we want it.”
Callahan says Gentle Harvest will be able support a farmer network “that will enable us to expand, at first within a 150-mile radius, in markets like D.C., Maryland and Virginia where we can make daily deliveries.”
The first Gentle Harvest opened in October in Marshall, Va. A second store is slated to open later this year.
Founder: Sandy Lerner
Liz Parks is a Union City, N.J.-based writer with extensive experience reporting on retail, pharmacy and technology issues.