The Couch Tomato

The Couch Tomato Café and Bistro

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

The innovation promotes alternative ideas to dealing with excess food and providing local ingredients. The SDGs involved are Zero Hunger (2) and Good Health and Well Being (3). The ways that The Couch Tomato provides these innovations are apparent through their food offerings, and work with Philabundance.

Author

Gabrielle Arnold

Gabrielle Arnold

School

Saint Joseph's University

Saint Joseph's University

Professor

David Steingard

David Steingard

Innovation

The Couch Tomato Café and Bistro is a locally owned and sourced restaurant with locations in Manayunk and West Chester, PA. Their business practices are beneficial towards making the world a better place, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs that The Couch Tomato incorporates into their practices include Zero Hunger (2) and Good Health and Well Being (3). For aiding in Zero Hunger, The Couch Tomato donates leftover foods to Philabundance, a non-profit food bank that serves the Philadelphia and Delaware regions, fighting against hunger and food waste. The Couch Tomato is focused on serving healthy, locally sourced foods to their customers, ultimately creating a better well being for those they serve.

The Couch Tomato’s website; they strive to provide the Manayunk and West Chester communities with “organic” and “local” ingredients. From organic flour for pizzas, to hormone-free and organic meats, The Couch Tomato goes the “extra mile” to promise their consumers nothing but the best for their community. The Couch Tomato also proudly serves organic, natural, and Fair Trade beverage options. Lastly they support many different dietary restrictions their consumers may face, by utilizing gluten free options, and a full plant-based alternative menu.

The Couch Tomato also seeks to provide those less fortunate in the greater Philadelphia area with the opportunity to have fresh, local, and organic ingredients. They do this by donating some of their food waste to Philabundance. Philabundance is the largest, and most prominent food donation banks in Philadelphia, and is a partner with Feeding America.

The Couch Tomato

Inspiration

The inspiration for this innovation has come in equal parts from the surrounding community, and the Couch Tomato’s dedication to high standards in their kitchen. Per the company website, owners Craig Mosmen, and Michael Cassano “spent many of their college years working in the restaurant industry, watching and learning the ways of running a small business.” When addressing the source of their inspiration with Brittany, the Director of Operations; she stated that the recipes are from scratch, and the ingredients as locally sourced as possible. The recipes also have familial and homemade influence as they are often family recipes the founders grew up with. The Couch Tomato has simultaneously found great inspiration from their surrounding communities in both Manayunk, and West Chester.

The Delaware Valley has a wide variety of locally based produce to utilize in The Couch Tomato’s kitchen. The Couch Tomato promotes the Good Health and Well Being (3) SDG creatively by offering a wide variety of options, both inside and outside their restaurants, to appeal to the many types of diets within the community. Within the walls of their restaurants, the offerings support the notion that the food they produce for the public is made with care and respect for their communities. Within the walls of their restaurants, there is house made breads, and scratch made tomato sauce from tomatoes roasted daily. Outside the walls of their restaurant include The Jar Garden, with a wide variety of menu offerings. The Jar Garden provides assistance in both the Zero Hunger (2) and Good Health and Well Being (3) SDGs and has been placed throughout the Philadelphia area and its leftovers are given to Philabundance as well as excess food in the restaurants.

Overall impact

The Couch Tomato has been a popular choice in both the Manayunk and West Chester communities since its opening, catering to the needs of thousands of people each year. Through their commitment to serving the community quality ingredients, they have seen tremendous growth from their initial Manayunk location - opening new locations and expanding their services. Their passion for healthy, fresh, local, and diverse foods, have sustained local farmers, and fed the Greater Philadelphia area. In Philadelphia, where 1 in 5 can be described as hungry, their donations to Philabundance battle food insecurity with quality, nourishing foods that would have otherwise been wasted due to being unwanted in The Couch Tomato kitchen. While Manayunk, itself, is not considered a food desert, the Greater Philadelphia area has issues with food deserts, and The Couch Tomato helps to battle that.

The expanded locations and services provide opportunity for a diverse amount of customers to come in and experience their quality and care. With their menu, they are selective in how they find their ingredients, making sure that if it is offered on the menu, it can be ordered readily and as fresh and organic as possible. Their quality and care is also reflected through their Jar Gardens, if the internal temperature reaches too high of a point, the Jar Garden locks itself to ensure a safe and quality product for the public.

Business benefit

The business aspect of these innovations has already seen The Couch Tomato grow in size. The Couch Tomato started off as the Couch Tomato Cafe’ in Manayunk, Philadelphia in 2003. Since its creation, it has seen growth in 2011; at the original location by addition of a Bistro. Then once again in 2014, as they opened the West Chester branch. The innovation clearly scalable, and as noted on their website; they have intentions of “growing their brand” in the future. Their consistency in finding local and fresh ingredients has shown their commitment to local farmers in the Greater Philadelphia Area, as the vast majority of the ingredients they get, they are getting closeby.

In regard to their menu options at different locations, they have begun to offer a more extensive list of what they serve. The Bistro has added the addition of a plant based menu, that has given them the ability to offer similar foods of those who eat everything, to those who have dietary restrictions. The Couch Tomato is already in a lucrative position, as many people are becoming more health conscious when choosing a restaurant to dine in. Restaurant Business, states that half of consumers believe in the importance of eating and drinking “clean label ingredients”. Roughly two thirds of consumers also would prefer menu labeling, and almost 40% of diners have a higher inclination to visit restaurants with healthy eating options regardless of what they order (Restaurant Business).

Social and environmental benefit

From a societal and environmental standpoint, The Couch Tomato provides many opportunities for success on a multitude of levels. The Couch Tomato provides economic support to local farmers, and highlights them on a board that informs the public of where they get their produce, meats, and cheeses. The Couch Tomato supports Fair Trade initiatives as well by providing beverages from Fair Trade suppliers. The Couch Tomato also provides social and environmental impact by donating their excess food from their restaurants and Jar Gardens instead of throwing it away, adding to landfills. By donation, they are ensuring that those who are less fortunate are able to eat quality foods, and lessening the amount of food that will spoil before being consumed. The Couch Tomato also utilizes greener materials in their restaurants. They use biodegradable utensils instead of plastic, which Brittany said break down in about “two weeks”. All of these things make them the ideal restaurant in their respective communities for those who are intrigued by eating locally sourced meals, and a continued commitment to the environment.

Interview

Brittany Dougherty, Director of Operations

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The Couch Tomato Café and Bistro

The Couch Tomato Café and Bistro

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Business Website: thecouchtomato.com

Year Founded: 2003

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

The Couch Tomato is a restaurant specializing in providing fresh, local, and organic ingredients wherever possible. The Couch Tomato is located in the Manayunk neighborhood in Philadelphia; and West Chester, Pennsylvania.