Sellers Markets' Sustainable Fast Food

A visit to Sellers Markets San Francisco Financial District eatery might just convince a Slow Food devotee to eat on the go. The premise? Delicious fare sourced from local ranchers, artisans and organic farmers can be yours for under $10 in under ten minutes.

We're not talking McNuggets, here. For lunch, think the Free-Range Turkey & Marin French Cheese Co. Triple Cream Brie Sandwich with tomato and arugula ($5.95). Breakfast? Niman Ranch Flatbread Frittatas with fennel sausage, cheddar, tomato and chives ($3.95). Yum.

The menu reflects founders Deborah and Jim Sellers' love of food in general and local producers in particular. When asked what most inspired the husband and wife duo to enter uncharted, sustainable fast food territory, Deborah responded, "All the great local artisans... Mmm... How truly great they are!" The Sellers use all local and organic greens, fruits, and soups. Other sources, such as the Scharffen Berger chocolate for their insane melt-on-contact brownies, bread, and cheese are not necessarily organic. However, because they are locally sourced by small-scale producers, fewer fossil fuels go into transporting them to the plate.

"All our meats and poultry are from those that practice sustainable agriculture - Niman Ranch, Petaluma Free-Range Poultry and Willie Bird free range turkey." Vegetarian offerings are provided in every meal category.
The commitment to sustainability doesn't end with bioregional sourcing. The Sellers' coffee and teas are fair-trade and organic. They have also created a thoughtful kitchen waste disposal system.

"Our kitchen is a major center for composting," Deborah notes. We compost chicken carcasses, coffee grounds, excess produce, fruits, fats, oils, flowers...Our goal is to utilize as many environmentally sound products and practices as possible."

This applies to the decor as well. The bright, modern space doesn't scream "green," but subtly integrates re-used elements. The farm-fresh theme is cleverly alluded to through the use of salvaged barn wood for the menu board, mirror frame and food counter. Another large, salvaged piece serves as a dining counter and place to flip through design magazines as you wait for your meal. Someone on a Financial District lunch break might not even realize she had stumbled into a sustainable eatery.
Since many of the patrons order food to go, the issue of disposable packaging remains. The take-away containers are made from recyclable plastic (luckily San Francisco recycles nearly all plastics), and recycled and recyclable unbleached paper products.

The first of the Sellers Markets has proven so successful that Downtown San Francisco will see a second location in April, 2006. "We are currently researching [eco-friendly materials] for our second store, like all recycled products from Black's Farm Wood, paints, tiles, finishes, etc. As gas prices continue to increase it will become more and more important to source locally."

If the Sellers Markets phenomenon seems Bay Area-specific, think again.

"I believe anywhere there is a Whole Foods Market, a Sellers Markets would be very successful," Deborah contends. "People are demanding better-for-you foods all across the country not just at home, but in fast-casual dining. Our model allows for flexibility. The majority of our purveyors can grow with us nationwide but we will introduce other local purveyors across the country wherever possible. Our goal is to support local artisans that practice sustainable agriculture. We plan on expanding in the SF Bay Area, then regionally, then nationally."

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