Bon Appétit promotes local with Mercantile

Published in FSD Update

Bon Appétit Management Co. has partnered with a group of local artisans to create a program that may have legs beyond the Marin County, Calif., area in which it currently operates.

Called Mercantile, the program has allowed Bon Appétit to sell a variety of jams, jellies, salsas and other items made from local and, often, organic foods. The idea came from Bon Appétit’s CEO, Fedele Bauccio.

“I got the idea from a partnership we formed with former Bon Appétit chef Merrilee Olson, who started a company based around working with farmers in Marin to preserve their excess produce via jams, sauces and pickles,” Bauccio says. “I thought Merrilee’s stuff was so great we should help her distribute it, and that got me thinking that a lot of our corporate guests are pressed for time. We could support local artisans like Merrilee and give our guests some great products they could pick up easily.”

So Bauccio asked Carrie Buckley, the company’s director of merchandising and décor, to develop a retail experience within a Bon Appétit account to show off and sell such products. Buckley’s team created Mercantile and set it up inside Lucasfilm’s headquarters in San Francisco.

“It is a small setup within the café,” Buckley says. “We use some cards to tell the story of each of the artisans and we also have gift wrap, ribbons, cards, etc., because we knew that sometimes people would be buying items to give as gifts.”

A mason jar-shaped chalkboard calls customers’ attention to Mercantile, and the unit, although small, has a sort of country-store look to it.

Buckley says that sales have been bolstered by some marketing tactics, such as using some of the foods in menu items being served in the café and bringing in some of the artisans to do tastings and demos.

“Our goal is to take this mobile,” she adds. “That way we can keep it fresh and new—people might get bored with it if they saw it all the time—and work on the seasonality. We’d like to use not only the canned and jarred stuff but also more fresh product and work in more of our farm-to-fork program.”

Buckley notes that the concept could be replicated in other parts of the country, so long as managers and chefs can make the connections with local farmers and artisans. “Right now we’re trying to do this in the Northwest,” she says.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

Industry News & Opinion

High school students in Dallastown Area School District in Dallastown, Pa., will soon see the addition of live prep stations in their cafeteria, as well as an area where they can access food at any time during the school day.

The district has partnered with Chartwells for the revamp, which will allow students to watch their food being prepared and also includes the addition of new menu items, says the York Dispatch .

Chartwells’ mid-Atlantic dietitian, Aliza Stern, believes these changes will be welcomed by students as they become increasingly interested in different types...

FSD Resources