Jeff and crew had a rocky start and a lot to learn, as in any new venture. His kitchen team quickly figured out how to tweak recipes and portion sizes on the fly to accommodate guests’ dietary preferences. They started out serving lunch, quickly added breakfast, and in no time they were offering dinner as well. In this process they became a top-notch restaurant on the island. Jeff took pride in sourcing his ingredients as much as possible from local producers, and everything they served was organic. As anyone who shops knows, organic foods can sometimes run two to three times as much as conventionally-grown produce, and wholesale discounts are small to non-existent. The staff put in long hours creating everything from scratch. Yes, they could have bought prepared foods like so many restaurants do, but like us, they chose to put in the extra labor to yield the best quality product. And high quality it was! You could taste the freshness, the wholesomeness. Their Facebook page is still up as of this writing; take a look at the delicious-looking food they were serving.
But high quality comes at a price. The restaurant was hopping throughout the summer, but once tourist season was over, locals didn’t take up the slack. It takes time for Islanders to get to know you to sustain a year-round business, particularly if you are situated off the main Spring Street corridor. Yes, The GreenHouse Cafe became the first choice for a number of locals, just not enough. Winters can be particularly long without much tourism foot traffic and many businesses dip into a line of credit to make it through until spring.
We mourn the loss of this Friday Harbor ground-breaking endeavor, and thank Jeff for his efforts and dedication to enlighten folks, not only to the benefits of a plant-based diet, but to demonstrate that this type of diet can be as visually beautiful and physically satisfying as any animal protein-based meal.
But this is not only the loss of a restaurant. When one of our own goes down, we all lose on so many fronts. It’s the loss of tax revenue for the town coffers, employment for workers, dining choices for locals and visitors, and another empty store front.
We can only imagine their sadness at having to close after such high hopes and diligent effort. Our hearts go out to the staff of The GreenHouse Cafe & Juice Bar.
Thank you Jeff, Leah, Ricarda. We wish you the best with whatever you decide to do next.