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Coming Soon: A Restaurant Chain that Buys Local

Coming Soon: A Restaurant Chain that Buys Local

In Quechee, locally grown food doesn't mean high prices or a gourmet atmosphere.  It means eggs, bacon and biscuits.

October 11, 2007 —

Locally grown food has been the signature of many big-city gourmet kitchens. But don't get the impression that sustainable restaurant fare always comes at a premium. Restauranteur Tod Murphy wants to take his place, The Farmers Diner in Quechee, Vermont, and turn it into a chain of diners throughout suburban America. Each location will be entirely supplied by mid-sized local farms. "Local good food shouldn't just be a rich person's item," he said. "It should be for everybody."

Murphy has been tweaking everything from his business model to his menu since 1999. After eight years, he is getting ready to open the second of 20 planned locations. Not every ingredient on the menu is organic, and urban restaurant critics who make the trip north are occasionally disappointed. “People come here expecting Chez Panisse,” Murphy complains. In many ways, it's more exciting to learn about the success of the Farmer's Diner and its spread across the country than the opening of another trendy urban gourmet eatery.

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