Talking the talk
This way, every server knows everything about all seafood the restaurant serves, Reusing says. They understand the restaurant’s philosophy and can discuss it, as well as what they serve and why. “They talk about it as a matter of course,” she explains. “They start early in the story and tell guests all about the fish. Tying the environmental story and the sustainability to flavor is helpful.”
She prefers this method over putting information on the menu. “People tune out of the menu because menus are so long these days. Direct engagement with a human is better and the preachy part is a real balancing act—not everybody wants to know, so our servers assess each table as they go along.”
Bastille Café & Bar in Seattle also uses its servers to educate diners about its sustainable seafood—but only if they ask.
“Most guests are savvy enough to understand and it’s a lot of information to get to the diner and we’re careful about what we share with them,” says Chef Jason Stoneburner. “But people are interested and ask questions and we train our servers to provide information. We have an overall statement. You don’t want to seem pretentious and don’t want to push these ideas on diners.”
What’s more important than the education is operating sustainably and Bastille tries to do that every which way it can. The restaurant grows its own vegetables in 25 tons of soil on its roof and has close relationships with local farmers and organic producers—“people who practice good stewardship toward the land,” Stoneburner says.