The North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), in partnership with Agraria LLC members and the Farmers Restaurant Group, opened the doors today to a sixth Founding Farmers restaurant at King of Prussia, Pa. This is the organization’s first location outside of the Beltway, since opening its first farmer-owned restaurant in 2006.
“If you would have told me 11 years ago that we’d have six restaurants serving 43,000 guests a week,” said NDFU President Mark Watne, “I would have said, ‘No way.’ The response has been phenomenal.”
Unlike the organization’s five other restaurants, Founding Farmers King of Prussia features a bakery and café on its first level for walk-in guests. The 284-seat second level is separated into dining microclimates that replicate different rooms of a farmhouse and includes a bar area. Large portions of made-from-scratch comfort food, sourced from family farms and ranches, are served at affordable prices.
Watne said the concept of a farmer-owned restaurant started at NDFU with the idea that farmers could secure a greater share of the U.S. food dollar by taking advantage of opportunities at the top of the production food chain rather than the bottom.
“The thought was to get closer to the consumer and then own the whole food chain system,” he said. “Not only are we putting more money into the hands of family farmers and ranchers, we’re strengthening people’s understanding of why family farm agriculture is so important to our country.”
The restaurant’s goal is to serve 100 percent U.S. family farm-sourced food. Last month, NDFU started trucking flour from the state mill and sugar from American Crystal to the East Coast. Potatoes and other raw commodities will soon be shipped with stops along the way to pick up commodities, such as butter in Minnesota and cheese in Wisconsin.
“It’s important that American family farmers and ranchers share in the profits,” said Watne.
The group plans to open a seventh restaurant early next year at Reston, Va.