Clyde’s makes a good thing better by using grass-fed, local beef in its burgers.
By John Arundel
With 13 D.C. area restaurants serving up 5,000 pounds of ground beef weekly, it took a while to find enough farms in the area to handle the demands of Clyde’s Restaurant Group locally.
Checking in with Clyde’s President Tom Meyer recently, we learned that Maryland’s Piedmont Ridge and Glenn Young Farm in Southern Pennsylvania are now providing all natural, grass-feed beef that is ground daily for Clyde’s hamburgers and chili. Meyer said that plans are also underway to work with the Shenandoah Beef Cooperative to identify additional supplies of ground beef, as well as center cuts, rib eyes and strip steaks.
“We’ve been working with local farms in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland to supply Clyde’s with fruits, vegetables, potatoes and fresh herbs from April until October, and with root vegetables in the winter months, so we’re excited to be able to provide our guests with beef from local farms,” Meyer said. “The price is a bit higher for us working with local farmers, but we’ve been able to build our business by serving quality products. Why serve a strawberry from California when they are being grown an hour away, which supports our local farmers’ businesses? Likewise this new beef source is a win-win for Clyde’s, our diners and the farmers.”
The cattle selected for Clyde’s ground beef are born and raised in an open, stress-free environment, he said. The farms on which they are raised are small scale operations compared with larger feedlots in other parts of the country. The animals are handled calmly and humanely and never introduced to steroids, growth hormones, by-products or supplements. These primarily Angus cattle are switched from grass to grain at 18 months and harvested at 20 – 24 months, depending on weight. The ground beef is 85 percent lean consisting of chuck, hip and round cuts, all fresh, never frozen.
Back in 1985, Meyer, who was then serving as the Corporate Chef for Clyde’s and Bart Farrell, Clyde’s Director of Purchasing, regularly drove to Purcellville, Va. to buy bushels of local tomatoes from Chip and Susan Plank. They also headed to the Northern Neck to buy melons, corn and tomatoes, paying cash as farmers at that time did not sell on credit to restaurants.
Westmoreland Berry Farm, a 17,000 acre farm was also a frequent stop to supply the four existing Clyde’s Restaurant Group’s establishments with berries and summer fruits. Clyde’s was one of Westmoreland’s first restaurant clients, he said.
In 2006, Clyde’s opened Willow Creek Farm, in Broadlands, Va., restoring the original barns on the property while installing a large produce garden to support the restaurant.
Farmer Tim MacLean plants and tends the raised garden beds, growing a seasonal cornucopia of sprouts, onions, shelling peas, Swiss chard, radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, beets, broccoli raab, sorrel, tomatoes and herbs.
“The direction we continue to take with all of our restaurants is to provide a distinctive experience, top notch food and excellent service,” Meyer said. “The new quality burgers are the next progressive step in providing the best sourcing possible for our restaurant guests.”
Clyde’s has restaurants in Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Gallery Place, Tyson’s Corner, Reston, Mark Center in Alexandria, and also owns Old Ebbitt Grill, Tower Oaks Lodge, Willow Creek Farm, The Tomato Palace, as well as The Tombs and 1789 Restaurant, both in Georgetown.