Farm-to-table restaurants are not new to Athens. Restaurants come and go, no matter their business model. But something odd is happening; more farm-to-table restaurants are popping up than ever before.
Athens has always had a “hippie vibe” about it in some regards. That is clearly reflected in the chefs that come to town with the idea of serving locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Since it is something that has survived in the Athens climate, chefs are not afraid to experiment with different types of fruits and vegetables they serve their guests.
The National is a farm-to-table restaurant who has found success downtown. The idea behind The National is “to provide a casual neighborhood gathering spot reminiscent of the bars and cafés we’ve enjoyed on travels to Europe”, according to their website.
General Manager Erin Wilson said that farm-to-table has not been on the forefront of what The National is about. “For us, it’s the natural way to plan our menu. We don’t necessarily bill ourselves as a farm-to-table,” Wilson said.
“For us it is all about the flavor. You really can’t beat local produce,” Wilson said.
The National has made it their mission to pay more to the farmers for their produce. “Its unrealistic to think that quality produce that is fresh and delicious is going to cost as little as what some Americans think it should,” Wilson said.
Adding that what America has come to think about what food should cost ultimately hurting the local economy that they are trying to protect.
Other local farm-to-table restaurants have said that helping the local economy and getting the flavor from fresh, off the vine produce is why they do it. Because at the end of the day, ordering frozen or shipped products are cheaper for restaurants and in turn cheaper for the customer. Athens maintains it’s commitment to preserving not only flavor but our economic future in the state.