Social entrepreneurship finds a home in the limited-service industry at Homegrown Sustainable Sandwiches, a Seattle-based sandwich concept that has expanded to 10 locations in the Pacific Northwest and three in California’s Bay Area.
Cofounders Ben Friedman and Brad Gillis opened the gourmet “slow food” sandwich shop as a way to promote socially conscious business practices, which include better sourcing, sustainability, and wholesome eating. The company sources all organic produce, eggs, and milk, as well as all-natural meats and cheeses. Everything in the restaurant is recyclable and compostable—there are no trash cans—and the company even founded its own farm outside Seattle to further invest in its passion for sustainability.
All of it combines to form a movement that the company refers to as “sandwich environmentalism.”
“We wanted to spend our lives working on the environment and pushing it forward with the ideals of conservation and sustainability,” Friedman told QSR last year. “The idea that we could fuse the two things together, that we could fuse being in business and doing good for the world, was a really exciting thing to us.”
Homegrown expanded to San Francisco earlier this year, a destination that the business partners felt made sense given the similar sourcing opportunities and clientele as Seattle. But Friedman and Gillis don’t plan to stop there; they see an opportunity to take their “sandwich environmentalism” to every corner of the country.
“We saw an opportunity to create a product around changing the food system, and if we curated everything about a sandwich, then a sandwich could be a really powerful mechanism for change,” Friedman says. “We recognize that if we curate everything, if we make all these choices around sustainability and craft our brand around the tenets of sustainability, then as we grow … we can really effect change on a broad scale.”