Finley Farms. (Photo courtesy of Finley Farms)

Want to dine in a sustainable restaurant in Springfield? We’ve got some ideas for where to get started.

There is no universally accepted system to measure the sustainability of an establishment, especially restaurants. They constantly adapt and fluctuate, making it difficult to categorize their practices. However, we can apply the three tenets of sustainability to their systems: equity, environment and economy.

Each restaurant that is striving for sustainability should have practices that create equity, which creates a better relationship between employers and employees, establishing longevity within the business.

Restaurants should also prioritize the environment, which is often done by making food from scratch. This provides a better opportunity for buying local, ethically-made ingredients.

The combination of equity, local sourcing and distribution benefits the last tenet: the local economy. Stimulating and investing in the local economy can create a more stable and resilient community.

There are many avenues to making establishments more sustainable, whether it’s using eco-friendly building materials or sourcing your ingredients locally. All the restaurants on this list are taking at least one step toward a more sustainable Springfield.

This list is not comprehensive. If you know of more sustainable spots, email the Springfield Daily Citizen’s Managing Editor Brittany Meiling.

Farmers Gastropub

Outside of Farmers Gastropub located at 2620 S. Glenstone Ave., in Springfield. (Photo by Abigail Zajac)

Opened in 2009, Farmers Gastropub is focused on providing traditional pub food made with fresh, local ingredients.

“We heavily rely on local farmers, farmer’s markets, and our own gardens to supply most of our menu.” said Michael Stauder, manager of Farmers Gastropub.

Besides local sourcing, Farmers Gastropub prioritizes the environment by having on-site recycling and utilizing local compost for their garden.

On the mark of equity, all front-of-house employees are given starting pay of $13 per hour which is above minimum wage.

Price: $$ (avg. entree is $20)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday

Cuisine: British pub food

Location: 2620 S. Glenstone Avenue

Finley Farms

Finley Farms is located at 802 Finley Farms Ln in Ozark. (Photo: Finley Farms)

Located next to the Finley River, Finley Farms is a 40-acre property that includes two restaurants. Their family-style restaurant features a seasonal menu, and both restaurants use ingredients from their urban farm and other local farms.

Finely aims to “produce food in a way that protects the environment,” which involves farmers and chefs coordinating their crops and menu planning, according to Finley marketing manager Dayle Duggins.

Beyond food, Finley aims to reduce waste by using reusable dining ware, recycling, and composting. Finley’s desire to be sustainable stems from its mission: conservation.

Johnny Morris, founder of the Bass Pro Shops, purchased Finley Farms with the objective to restore the Ozark Mill, one of the last standing water mills in Missouri.

Price: $$ (avg. entree is $27)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday

Cuisine: American

Location: 802 Finley Farms Lane, Ozark

Taco Habitat

Taco Habitat is located at 3325 S. Glenstone Ave. in Springfield. (Photo by Abigail Zajac)

Taco Habitat takes upcycling to the max. Their restaurant was built by owner Micheal Felt out of shipping crates used to import building materials.

All menu items are organic, and tortillas are made in-house — in an effort to “make Springfield a better place, one taco at a time,” according to Taco Habitat’s website.

Price: $ (avg. entree is $9)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Saturday

Cuisine: Mexican fusion

Location: 3325 S. Glenstone Avenue

Neighbor’s Mill

Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Café has two Springfield locations. (Photo by Abigail Zajac)

This family-owned cafe is centered around creating community.

Neighbor’s Mill has two locations, offering coffee from local roasters, soups, salads and sandwiches made on their 25 different kinds of house-made bread.

Family-owned, this establishment is bread-centered and aims to preserve the history of breadmaking by modeling its building designs after old grist mills in the Midwest.

Price: $ ($7.99 for all combo meals)

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday

Cuisine: bakery and coffee shop

Locations: 1301 E. Sunshine Street; 1435 E. Independence Street

Craft Sushi

Craft Sushi is located at 1251 E. Sunshine St., in Springfield. (Photo by Abigail Zajac)

Off Sunshine street, Craft Sushi prioritizes sourcing fresh, organic ingredients.

Craft Sushi sources local ingredients from farmers markets, Urban Roots farm and Top Shelf fungi. 

Owner Jenny Cho says she also takes steps to reduce the restaurant’s waste by opting for compostable to-go containers and glass bottled sodas.

Price: $ (avg. entree is $11)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday-Saturday

Cuisine: sushi and poke bowls

Location: 1251 E. Sunshine Street

Harvest

World-class cuisine is located in Rogersville. (Photo: Harvest)

Ran by chef Craig Von Forester, Harvest is a micro restaurant with a menu completely based on available goods.

Located on an 89-year-old family farm, Harvests’ operations are completed based on seasonality because Forester works with local farmers.

Forester focuses on hyper-seasonality and using ingredients that are fresh.

Price: menu prices not available

Hours: 5:30 to 9 p.m., Thursday-Saturday

Cuisine: American/ experimental

Location: 8011 Highway Ad, Rogersville

Progress

Artwork that sits just outside of Progress. (Photo by Abigail Zajac)

This restaurant focuses on transparency, indicating when they are using farm-fresh meats and veggies in unique brunch and dinner dishes.

Progress also includes a 3 percent service charge to guest checks which goes to “dishwasher” and “cooks” “to create a more sustainable and supportive work-life balance,” according to their website.

Price: $$$ (avg. entree is $37)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday; 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday

Cuisine: American Fine Dining

Location: 2144 E. Republic Road

How to figure out if your favorite restaurant is sustainable

Being able to gauge if a restaurant is sustainable is an important part of being an educated consumer, but restaurants do not always make it easy to tell. Many establishments practice greenwashing, advertising or alluding to “green” practices that they do not actually use. 

A good starting point is to see if the restaurant is transparent or has detailed information about its management, food sources and other practices readily available on menus or websites.

If that is not available then consider asking restaurant managers or owners about their process. If they are unwilling to speak to you or do not have information, then chances are they are not prioritizing a green initiative. 

With inflation, a continual worker shortage and lack of education about sustainability it is difficult for many restaurants and businesses to maintain or start green practices, so don’t be too hard on your favorite eateries; they’re trying their best.

Abigail Zajac

Abigail Zajac is a general assignment intern at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She’s currently a sophomore at Missouri State University studying creative writing and sustainability. Zajac is interested in arts, culture and the environment. More by Abigail Zajac