Houston’s Dish Society Adds a Daily Farmer’s Market to its Restaurant Offerings

Creative Expansion Pushed by the New Coronavirus Realities

BY // 04.07.20
photography Courtesy Dish Society

Since the 2014 opening of their casual farm-to-table restaurant featuring ingredient-driven dishes, Aaron Lyons and Trent Patterson have toyed with the idea of expanding their Dish Society cafes to include something of a daily farmer’s market. Under COVID-19 realities, they have gone full throttle on the concept.

“I’m getting a little bit of feeling like Scott [McClleland] at H-E-B,” Patterson quips as he explains to PaperCity the process of receiving bountiful deliveries from area farms three times a week at four of his five Dish Society restaurants. (The Finn Hall location is closed due to city coronavirus regulations.)

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, 75 percent of Dish Society ingredients was sourced from Texas producers, including locally roasted coffee, fresh-pressed juices, craft beer ,and wines.

With the closure of restaurant dining rooms across the city and grocery-store lines often impossibly long, Dish Society’s offerings have expanded wildly from its typical menu, which is now fully available for takeout and delivery. The addition is a wealth of local produce, meats, eggs, milk, bread, and tortillas from Houston-area farmers, ranchers, and food artisans.

For $31.99, customers can pick up or have delivered free (within 30 to 40 minutes, according to Patterson) a box with a week’s worth of the freshest ingredients. Think carrots out of the ground only 48 hours before arriving in your kitchen. The box includes a variety of greens and veggies, depending on the farmers’ availability. Recent boxes have overflowed with a mix of cauliflower, broccoli, Swiss chard, mixed greens, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and red and yellow onions.

“Supporting the farmers is why we started,” Patterson says. “The more we can do that, the better. The smaller guys need help.”

He adds that not everyone can dedicate Saturday morning to visit a local farmer’s market. Likewise, the smaller farmers can’t exist on a once-a-week opportunity to sell. Stepping in is Dish Society, which offers convenience for families and young professionals as well as profitability for small farmers.

Dish Society (Photo by Courtesy Dish Society)
Atkinson Farms and smaller farming operations supply the fresh produce to Dish Society three times a week. (Photo by Courtesy Dish Society)

In addition to the fresh produce, additional items include Atkinson Farms strawberries; free-range eggs from Ole Dad Farm in Weimer; ground beef, ground sausage, and bacon from Black Hill Ranch in Katy; whole-grain wheat bread from Slow Dough; and more. As a bonus, those in need can order a roll of toilet paper for $1.49.

All is available for online ordering here. My sister, Cathy Hodge, placed an order over the weekend, and her box of vegetables was ready, according to the order taker, in six minutes.

Don’t forget to tip generously. She did.

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