Grazin', a Tribeca Burger Joint Re-Thinking the Supply Chain

Shown: The Seoul burger featuring bone marrow butter and kimchi.  Photo by Zack Sheppard.

Shown: The Seoul burger featuring bone marrow butter and kimchi.  Photo by Zack Sheppard.

In a city that birthed Shake Shack, it may come as a surprise to find someone with the balls to open another casual burger joint. But if you're a family of farmers with the most transparently-sourced beef in town, then maybe there's something to the idea. Grazin' Tribeca is the second diner serving meat from Grazin Angus Acres, a 500-acre farm in Ghent, New York. Its grass-fed and finished beef is the only beef served both there and at a Grazin' in Hudson, NY, the only two 100% Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) restaurants in the world.

Dan and Susan Gibson are the owners of the Grazin' restaurants and the farm. The couples' 300 Black Angus cattle are allowed to wander freely, browsing on stems of clover whenever they feel like it. On their last day, the only bad one, they're taken to a slaughterhouse. It's the closest plant, and when the Gibsons started their farm, it wasn't AWA certified, but after Dan promised them all of his business, they changed their ways.

This all-or-nothing mindset of the Gibsons can be blamed on The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan's book about what we choose to eat for dinner. It's from Pollan's book that Dan, who at the time was an executive with Starwood Hotels, helping to launch their well-known W-hotel chain, learned that there was a different type of farmer. He and Susan bought their farm in 2002, and at first weren't quite ready to quit their corporate jobs. But eventually, after dog-earing every page in the book and talking to other farmers, they took the leap. And now it makes more sense: how a Type-A farmer set his mind to running a profitable business. They're not rolling in the profits yet, but they're in the black and the family eats well.

Each member of the family has a role. Keith, their son, manages the farm and its twice-a-week locations at local farmer's markets. Their son-in-law Chip oversees the two restaurants. And everyone else – daughters, wives, kids – are out in the fields collecting eggs from their heritage hens, hand-milking the Jersey cows, feeding compost to the Tamworth pigs, or balancing the books of their LLC's.

In the farm's early days, the Gibsons were selling to restaurants in Manhattan that served commercially available burgers alongside one or two made of their premium grass-fed product. But Chip and Dan knew they didn't want to be those guys – the ones that serve sustainable ingredients alongside questionable ones. "Every protein would be AWA certified," Chip says.

Originally published for Eater. Read the full story here.