Many of us have expressed how exciting it would be to see a really good Paleo restaurant come about and succeed. Not only would that give us a great option for eating out, but its success would surely spawn others to follow suit. I've exposed my general idea for Jack Kronk's Cave here.
But then again, pretty much all of us are spending the vast majority of our food budget on foods to bring back home for preparation. Not only is there not one place that we could all say is a solid "One-stop-shop" for Paleo foods, but we even have threads asking how many stores does it take to complete your list! And most people have to shop at a handful of venues.
Well, what about having a grocery store that understands our needs and totally caters to Paleo foods. Can you see it, folks? A full butcher counter of GF beef, GF lamb, game meat, bacon from hogs raised right, wild salmon and other healthy seafood options. All from the best farms and companies with the best operational practices. A huge egg section from soy free pastured chickens, GF raw and lightly pasteurized organic milks, pure cream, pasture butters, GF ghee made in house, fresh produce. Paleo salad dressings, paleo mayo, a full isle of cooking oils with zero bad oils, dark chocolate section, etc etc etc etc... What would you like to see in the PERFECT grocery store! Can you imagine being able to just tell a loved one to shop at "Optimal Real Foods" and be done with the whole conversation?
"How do you stay so healthy and fit?"
"I do all my grocery shopping at ORF. You can't go wrong with that place."
How would a successful restaurant or grocery store influence Paleo and which one do you think would have a more far-reaching impact on Paleo as whole? Do you see any drawbacks?
I would choose a restaurant..simply for the reason that it's not rocket science to stay in the fruit, veggie and meat aisles and choose wisely for your food at home. But eating out, yikes, there is no place really that you can truly count on getting a healthy, unprocessed meal that you can truly feel great about...I can feel ok about my choice if I go in with the full knowledge that there's going to be shit hidden in there somewhere but I just got to be not so nutty about it...but wouldn't it be nice to look at a menu and know whatever you ordered was going to be unprocessed, delicious, not laden with whatever shenanigans goes on in the kitchen? I know, i've worked in plenty of restaurants...there's always "something" most paleo/primal/unprocessed eaters wouldn't want in their food.
Why not do both? A lot of the newer Whole Foods are now being built with food bars where people can take a break from shopping and sit down for a good meal. Same goes for a lot of European-style butcher and delicatessen shops, where you can have a sandwich made, or grab a small bite to eat.
A paleo grocery chain could do something similar, by having a sit-down bar with a limited selection of meals. In fact, the flagship store might gain much more traffic if it offered a rotating menu based on seasonal items. The emphasis would never be on the "restaurant" component, but it would help support the store. (How many non-paleo people would know to replace pasta with, say, spaghetti squash, for example? Throw it on the menu!)
Grocery store. Hands down. An old boss of mine told me that unless you plan on running a diner, if you want your restaurant to succeed you need to choose a cuisine, keep the menu small and don't worry about catering to everyone else's tastes. I firmly believe that those places that try to have a little bit of something for everyone A) suck, and B) are doomed in the long run.
Now a grocery store...they sell everything! And I don't have to worry about what the chef is making tonight...cuz I'm the chef! Most definitely, I choose a grocery store.
How about a grocery store with all of our fave paleo foods with a kick-ass deli that has awesome paleo foods for the lazy days? We have a couple 'healthy' grocery stores in my town that have great deli's but the food that they prepare is mostly vegetarian (ugh!).
Why not offer both. Maybe a small diner/restaurant inside a grocery store. So if you would like to shop for your dinner you could have the option to purchase and cookat home. You could also offer a few hot and ready choices or made to order meals. Something like a "Boston Market" type set up with small tables and chairs. You would then be cattering to both somewhat. I understand it wouldn't be a "nice sit down dinner" , but it could suffice for a prepared meal for two.
While either would be marvelous, I'd choose a restaurant for two very personal reasons. 1) We live in an area where it is fairly easy to source things like grass-finished and pastured meat (as well as their organs), pastured eggs and a wide range of locally grown, organic produce; and 2) my husband travels for business quite a bit and his biggest complaint these days is finding good, nourishing food on the road. It's frustrating for him, and I worry about what he's eating even though he avoids grains and processed crap.
In my mind to start with a grocery store chain would be more effective because most people cook meals more often than they go out to dinner. The Paleo restaurant, 'Jack Kronk's Cave', would be a novelty for me but I likely wouldn't go often.
With either the stores or the restaurant chain, the concept would have to start in major cities where there are already enough committed Paleo eaters to support them until the movement 'took off'.
It would sure simplify things having all approved Paleo foods in one location, and a restaurant where you couldn't possibly make a bad choice. :)