Though it may seem like a lot of our cities are bombarded with high obesity rates, fast food and poor nutrition, there are still places that do their best to reflect the opposite—like Venice Beach, California. It’s where we found a couple of guys who are very passionate about creating healthy and affordable food options that taste amazing, make you feel amazing and reduce the carbon footprint. Tom Elliott and Spoon Singh, the owners of restaurants Bank of Venice and Venice Ale House are happy to be serving locally grown organic foods to their clients.
Is organic food expensive? Sure it is. But for Elliott it’s more important to do what feels right. “The cheapest and easiest thing to do is not always the right thing to do,” says Elliott. Adding, “it’s not the right thing to do”.
Elliott is referencing certain mass food production industries that genetically modify crops and spray pesticides. Actions that lead to things like killing off our bee population. A solution might be cheap and easy, but it can’t be right if it creates more negative side effects.
Know your food before you eat it
“The more I did research on it, the more I realized how outrageous food production is,” Elliott continued, “I was so fascinated by how much difference there is in not only the nutritional value in foods, but what it’s doing to the environment and how much we are duped as consumers. There’s so much lying and deceit in the food industry and marketing of food.”
It’s no secret that pesticides have bad side effects, but our country’s eating habits can make that an easy fact to ignore. In a conversation you might not expect to have over a beer on the Venice Beach boardwalk, Elliott built a strong case for why knowledge of the food on your plate shouldn’t be ignored.
“That became my own personal mantra – Know where your food came from. You should be able to identify how everything got from where it started to your plate.” Elliott said.
How to make organic affordable?
Raised in the progressive state of Colorado, with a mom who put a high focus on nutritious foods, Elliott had healthy eating habits. He and his friend Spoon Singh wanted to create healthy options for their customers and knew that it would be too expensive to charge the standard amount to cover their overhead costs; so they had to get creative.
“The way that we did it was we said ‘we’re going to sell a lot of beer’. So even if we’re not making any money on food, at least we’ll make some money on beer, but the beer is only going to be local.”
Venice Ale House and Bank of Venice serve all California beer and wine to both support local breweries and wineries, and to reduce their carbon footprint.
They take a smaller profit from food sales, but make up for it in beer sales. As a result, Venice Ale House was successful enough for the two to open up Bank of Venice and Austin Ale House in Texas.
Eat Good. Feel Good. Live Good.
Sometimes heavy, fried “hangover” food is an easy go-to that makes you feel ‘better’ in the moment. But, hours later you can feel lousy, fatigued and generally down. Often after that, one can reach for the soda to get that afternoon pick-me-up only to be faced with the sugar crash that follows.
Elliott set out to create food that tastes just as good but doesn’t come with that lousy feeling. Bank of Venice and Ale House don’t fry any of their foods. Instead of french fries you’ll get “un-fries”: thinly sliced roasted potatoes.
Both restaurants are also a soda free zone. All drinks are made from fresh squeezed juices. If you want a Ginger Ale, you can expect fresh ginger juice mixed with simple syrup and soda water.
For Elliott it’s less about profit and more about eating good, feeling good, and living good.
“If I really wanted to maximize my profit as a business man I’d get rid of all of my organic vendors and I’d use some other suppliers that get the cheapest food possible, but then we taste like everything else on the beach and I wouldn’t eat here” Elliott continued, “That’s what I tell all my customers when they ask me how the food is… I say ‘well you see me eating here don’t you?’ Because my integrity is on the line and I have to stand by what I sell.”