Last weekend my husband and I went to Craigie on Main, a Cambridge, MA restaurant that has been on the top of our list for over a year. We were celebrating our first wedding anniversary, and as self-proclaimed “foodies", Craigie seemed like the perfect spot. (For a review of our evening and the amazing meal we enjoyed, you can visit my husband’s blog See Dan Cook - yes, it’s a little shameless family plug but if you like cooking, Dan’s site is a must-read.) Anyway, after four hours and 10+ courses, we were ready to head home. The check came, and tucked in the little pocket of the bill folder were two interesting pieces of paper. The first: a detailed survey for us to complete (the MBA in me loves surveys and the instant feedback they provide!). The second: a thin, double-sided slip of paper entitled, “Don’t just eat right with us…feel right about us”. As you can see below, the flier lists a number of ways that Craigie on Main is a committed and sustainable partner in the Cambridge food community.
Reading through the list of their “good deeds,” I couldn’t help but feel even more attached and loyal to my new favorite restaurant. So many companies shy away from telling their consumers what they’re doing for the community or for the environment because they worry they’ll expose themselves to criticism. After all, if you can openly claim that you reduced your paper usage by 5% this year (for example), what’s stopping someone from calling you up next year and saying, “Did you make it to 6%?”. It’s the old adage: no good deed goes unpunished. Yet here this kind of transparency was welcome and refreshing. I felt good not just about the meal I’d enjoyed, but about supporting a restaurant that gives back in so many ways. My only critique? I wish Craigie had somehow educated me about their sustainability and responsibility practices before I actually set foot in the restaurant so that I could have made an informed decision to patronize the restaurant instead of some sort of happy accident (although in fairness this information is also listed on their website). I know that transparency can make a company (and a person!) feel vulnerable. But, as I learned firsthand with Craigie, the relationship between that company and its customers will be so much stronger in the end. I wonder how long it'll be before we see disclaimers and pamphlets like this in other restaurants and businesses? In my opinion, it's only a matter of time until we see companies moving beyond simple eco-labelling or certification and into a more well-developed and deeper dialogue with their consumers. What do you think?