ANCHORAGE - For restaurants, buying local can be expensive. The Division of Agriculture is making it more affordable with federal money. Over the past year it’s given out nearly $30,000 from a USDA Specialty Block Crop Grant to 32 restaurants participating in the Alaska Grown Restaurant Rewards Program.
At the Spenard Roadhouse if the produce is in season in Alaska, chances are it’s on your plate.
“We serve Alaska-grown as much as we can, regardless of the rebate program. But that was a great way for us to take another step and make a commitment,” said manager Aleks Pfaffe.
The Spenard Roadhouse is one of only three businesses in Anchorage involved in the program. The Bear Tooth and Hott Stixx have also signed up for the rebates.
Hott Stixx owner Mike Doge started as a sous chef at the Spenard Roadhouse and carried the "eat local" philosophy with him.
“When I opened my own place, that was also my focus too, to really get the Alaskan-grown and Alaska focus. I'm Alaskan grown myself so that's even more of a reason to support local,” said Dodge.
His restaurant was already hitting up local farmers’ markets on a regular basis and said it’s nice to be rewarded for supporting fellow Alaskans.
“Having a higher price in delivery was really hurting our bottom line and so being able to compensate for that is helping us out,” said Dodge.
If the Division of Agriculture gives out all $30,000 of the grant, that means participating restaurants will have spent more than $165,000 on locally grown produce. Next year the Division of Agriculture will have $35,000 to distribute.