At Founding Farmers, Everything Matters. Nothing is too small. If something can be made better, smarter, healthier, that’s how we want to do it. For us, this means we make everything from scratch from our bread to our booze. We thoughtfully source all of our ingredients. We have active recycling and composting programs that divert about 90% of our waste from landfills. We design and operate sustainable restaurants. We earn LEED and Green Restaurant Association certifications. We started a nonprofit – Our Last Straw – to expand our sustainability efforts beyond the walls of our restaurants. We actively support our neighborhoods and our communities. We grow our people, providing hands-on training, mentorship, and opportunities for continued growth. Our business model, as a farmer-owned company, is designed to ensure American family farmers earn a larger share of the food dollar.
Everything is Personal
For us, Everything is Personal. We are led by restaurateurs, Michael Vucurevich and Dan Simons, in partnership with Mark Watne, farmer and President of the North Dakota Farmers Union, and the more than 50,000 American family farmers who majority own our restaurants. We are a learning organization of like-minded people, individually and collectively committed to creating delicious and sustainable food and drink, an atmosphere of genuine hospitality, understanding and developing our people, and doing the right things for the right reasons. Food and drink are the fuel on which all humans run. Through learning and teaching, we strive to provide this fuel in ways that align with our principles. Our guests take comfort in knowing that we pay attention, so they don’t have to.
Made from Scratch
EVERYTHING we serve, all of our food and drink, is made from scratch in our restaurants. Our Co-Owner Michael Vucurevich (known as Mike V.) and Chef Joe Goetze are continually developing our menus, crafting new and delicious ways to serve our guests, starting with simple, high-quality ingredients.That English muffin? Made in our bakery with North Dakota flour and served with jam, also made here. The burger? All-natural beef, ground daily in our restaurants. Those fries? Yep, made fresh each day from the highest quality potatoes. That ice cream? Hand-churned here. Ginger Soda? Our bartenders are also chefs. We boil and reduce fresh ginger crafting our own ginger syrup. Our booze? That too. We have our own distillery, Founding Spirits, located in the heart of our Nation’s Capital inside one of our restaurants. Our award-winning spirits use all American ingredients harvested by American farmers. Originally created for our restaurant craft cocktails, our spirits are available to enjoy at home, including Founding Spirits Dry Gin, Vodka, and American Amaro.
Food with a Conscience
Our food-sourcing decisions are intended to “unbundle the supply chain” to bring higher quality ingredients to our guests and to influence the buying decisions of our suppliers and others in the hospitality industry. We give a great deal of thought to the farmers who grow and harvest our ingredients. We seek out family farmers and support purveyors who employ responsible farming methods. This includes farms that value and support conservation, biodiversity, animal stewardship, economic viability, and fair treatment of workers. We work to buy directly from farmers, including running our own 18-wheeler directly from American family farms and suppliers in North Dakota, picking up food and supplies along the way to Washington, D.C.
Mike V. and Chef Joe craft our menus to be location-specific and vary season to season, dependent upon essential working relationships with farmers and suppliers, including those who specialize in regional favorites like Maryland Lump Crab and Chesapeake Blue Catfish. Whenever possible, we get our supplies from a cadre of primarily independent and locally owned distributors, who source from nearby family farms and fishermen, that are able to carry the products we need, keep up with our volume, and align with our mission. Above all, we focus on quality, whether we’re bringing in peaches from down the road or broccoli from across the country.
Our goal – directly and indirectly – is to increase demand for family-farmed products while pioneering a business model that gives farmers a greater share of the food dollar. The purpose of our company is two-fold. First, to spread the message of the American family farmer: farming matters, how it is done matters, and that it is central to not only our nation’s history, but to also the great American future. Second, to do it on a platform of a sustainable, scalable, and earth-friendly business model, generating profits for farmers in ways we can be proud.
American Family Farmers
Founding Farmers is majority owned by American family farmers, including the more than 50,000 farmers of the North Dakota Farmers Union. Our restaurants operate, and are guided by, a very simple principle: we see and share everything … Through The Eyes Of The Farmer.™ When we make decisions, we see things the way American family farmers see things. We actively care about our neighbors, the land, the next generation, the quality of the product, and the overlap between our personal reputation and the meaning of our “brand.” This all comes together to make us an everyday neighborhood restaurant.
We opened our ﬁrst restaurant in 2008 on Pennsylvania Avenue just a few blocks from the White House, with a mission to take people back to the source, to enjoy food that is grown, raised, and harvested on family farms across our region and our nation. Every day, we are working to affirm that family farming was, and remains, essential to our nation’s well-being. For over a decade we have stayed true to our mission. We never prioritize profit above mission. If our sales are down one quarter, we don’t pull back on portions or product quality. We maintain our principles and our values.
Just like our farmer owners, we are in it for the long haul, bringing a multi-generational approach to each unique project and growing sustainably. This is our company character.
Our name “Founding Farmers” is a nod to our Founding Fathers, many of whom were devoted farmers long before they became trailblazers for our country. While those leaders built and contributed to the American agricultural tradition, we recognize that our mission is also about growing a new venture with farmers at the root: one that strengthens their livelihood, gives back to the community, preserves our land and waterways, and makes high-quality food accessible to all.
We want you, our guest, to know that the food on your plate comes from a real person, whether it is the farmer working the land or the chef cooking it for you. We also want you to know that farmers directly benefit from you enjoying our food and drink. This is what it means to be farmer-owned.
We invite you to continue reading and explore our website. Even better, stop by or make a reservation in one of our restaurants to learn more about us, get a taste of our food and drink, and support American family farmers.
Sustainably Designed & Operated
At Founding Farmers, sustainability is interwoven into our facilities, operations, and the hundreds of decisions we make each day that affect the world around us. We LEED and Green Restaurant Association certify all of our restaurants. We thoughtfully source our ingredients, work with suppliers to reduce packaging, paint with non-volatile compounds, choose efficient HVAC and lighting systems, use wood from fallen trees and old barns, divert 90 percent of our trash from landfills with robust compost and recycling programs, say no to plastic water bottles and plastic straws, and more. We aren’t perfect, but every day we are trying to do better, continually working to preserve our planet… and to do more good and less harm.
Our social impact does not stop with American family farmers and the environment. We continually invest in our communities. We grow our philanthropic projects with an appreciation for long-term relationships. We have partnered with DC Central Kitchen, teaching quarterly classes in personal development, and support many chef interns, some of whom grow into full-time employees in our kitchens. Since 2011, we have provided funding to The George Washington University for the largest restaurant-owned apiary in the country to expand honey bee research. We have supported many schools and nonprofits, including Best Buddies, Food Tank, Last Call for Food, and the Ferguson Foundation. When COVID-19 landed in our region, we doubled down on our philanthropic efforts, expanding existing partnerships and developed new ones, to provide ongoing support for communities in need and our frontline workers with food, hand sanitizer, and PPE. In 2018, we founded a business coalition turned nonprofit – Our Last Straw – to eliminate the distribution and use of plastic straws across the hospitality industry. We are part of the Founders Circle for the DC chapter of Conscious Capitalism and our Co-Owner, Dan Simons, is on their Advisory Board. We are continually working to raise the bar in our industry, most recently hosting a panel on Women In Hospitality: Pathways & Ladders at Founding Farmers & Distillers.
Growing Our Team
Our “secret sauce” is our people. Named one of the Best Places To Work in the DC metro area by the Washington Business Journal, we have a passion for fostering connectivity, relationships, career and life enrichment, excellence, and success. Our purpose is to grow and sustain our team with safe and supportive work environments, hands-on training and mentorship, ongoing skills building and cross-training, and opportunities for continued growth and learning. Seventy percent of our management team has been promoted and grown from within our company. We operate a “deserve your talent” model, working to create a culture of never-ending learning and reinvention. We teach classes in personal productivity and time management, provide continual skill development, offer excellent benefits, establish written career paths, and believe that job satisfaction and mental wellness are essential to success for the individual employee and the entire company. We are creating a stable workforce of well-trained, and very often, like-minded individuals that truly care about the company and our mission.
Join Us For A Meal
We are open every day, including holidays. Join us for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and weekend brunch. Check out our full menus for each location online. We’re excited to serve you.