Do you sell your food to local restaurants? If not, it's definitely something to start thinking about. With a growing awareness of local food, many restaurants are seeking raw ingredients from nearby farmers. Once you've developed a relationship with a restaurant, you can even grow just what they need, when they need it - reducing waste and cost for you.
What are some of the advantages? Well, first, developing a relationship with a chef at a restaurant can help give you feedback on your product. And, as I mentioned above, you have a steady outlet for sales throughout the growing season. When you tailor your growing to suit the chef's needs you reduce waste (and cost, too). If you're growing a specialty, rare or premium product, you can get top dollar for it, often. And don't overlook the benefit of free advertising. Many restaurants include the name of the farm on their menus, bringing your farm literally to the lips of the restaurant customers.
And of course there are some downsides: many restaurants will buy in smaller quantities, and require frequent deliveries during their business hours. Like any business arrangement, make sure expectations are laid out clearly ahead of time, and if you can have a written agreement, that is preferable to a verbal one. You'll need to provide first-quality product in proper, sanitary packaging, and if you have several restaurants you may need to make multiple, potentially time-consuming deliveries. It may be challenging to tailor the quantity of what you grow to just one restaurant's supply needs, so selling to multiple restaurants may be required.
Still, selling to restaurants can be a great way to expand your client base and get your name out there in the community to people who are conscious of the benefits of buying local food. Please share in the comments what you've found to work, and what challenges you may have faced, in selling your produce, meat, and or eggs to local restaurants.