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November 26, 2012

Some area restaurants make effort to use local foods

PLATTSBURGH — Some restaurants in the area opt for locally grown and raised food for their menus because they see any extra effort and cost as an investment that pays off in the long run. 

BETTER QUALITY

Matt Ray and his wife, Jess, co-own Livingoods, a downtown Plattsburgh restaurant. Matt Ray has a hard time seeing why they wouldn’t use locally sourced food, especially in harvest season. 

“Philosophically it just makes sense to me. Why buy a product that has to be shipped from far away?” he said. “It’s important for the environment and for the local economy.” 

Although more expensive, the food is a higher quality and lasts a lot longer in the cooler, he said.

He sources food from Quarry Garden Vegetable and Art Farm in Chazy when it’s available. Ray also walks to a vegetable stand near his house when fruits and vegetables are plentiful, but he needs a much larger quantity than the average farmers market customer. 

MEETING DEMANDS

“That has been my challenge … finding farmers that can meet my demand,” Ray said. “Not just what I need, but when I need it.”

Because of Livingoods’ demand, he searched for years for a local beef supplier that could meet his needs. In August, he found Kilcoyne Farms in Brasher Falls. He pays the difference in price out of pocket and hasn’t changed the burger prices on the menu, although he did raise the price for Burger and Beer Night from $10 to $11.

Customers welcomed the price change because they were glad that Livingoods had made the decision to use local and pasture-raised beef. 

“I made a mention on Facebook,” Ray said. “Customers said they’d gladly pay more.”

However, the food at Livingoods is far from being 100 percent local. During the winter, the Rays receive products from a distributor in Florida. Customers often ask if Livingoods uses food grown locally, but during the winter they can’t expect the tomatoes on their salad to be from here, he said. 

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