Flagstaff-based SLO Restaurant Concepts has Localism baked into its DNA. SLO stands for sustainable, local, organic and these three beliefs that are prevalent in the company’s approach to running their business. Here are some of the impressive things they are doing to make their business a good community steward.
The foundation of the company revolves around local sourcing and they go above and beyond in their procurement of local products. SLO supports companies in the region, from farmers to office supplies to building materials. Their relationship with their vendors goes further than a purchase agreement as they often collaborate to host special dinners featuring Arizona growers and winemakers. Not only are they creating great relationships with fellow business owners, they are seeing the results of their attention to local in customer support. Some of their local food vendors include:
Tortilla Lady, Flagstaff
McClendon Select, Peoria
Ridgeview Farms, Paulden
Black Mesa Ranch, Snowflake
Queen Creek Olive Mill, Queen Creek
Arizona Legacy Beef, Central Arizona
Arizona Cheese Company, Tempe
Hayden Flour Mills, Tempe
Page Springs Vineyards, Page Springs
Firecreek Coffee Company, Flagstaff
Mother Road Brewery, Flagstaff
Chateau Tumbleweed, Camp Verde
Olinka Kombucha, Sedona
Top Knot Poultry, Tucson
Historic Brewing Company, Flagstaff
Pillsbury Wine, Wilcox
Sand Reckoner, Wilcox
Village Baker, Flagstaff
Pizzicletta Bread, Flagstaff
Rising Hy Hot Sauce, Flagstaff
Mountain Top Honey, Flagstaff
Lumberyard Brewing Company, Flagstaff
Flagstaff Farming Company, Flagstaff
The mantra that “we’re better together” is what inspires Heather Malloy, who is in charge of SLO Restaurant Concept’s business operations. She is always on the lookout for ways to collaborate within her community. Flagstaff restaurant Criollo, for example, is abundant in the arts scene. They host local artists in the restaurant and hold fundraisers for art projects. Flagstaff is a Dark Sky City meaning the city works to keep light pollution at a minimum to preserve the night skies, nocturnal animals and energy. An exhibit of photography that was only shot at night was hosted at Criollo Restaurant to raise awareness of this initiative. This is a perfect example of a business being in tune with what is happening in their community and letting people know their values.
Yarn bombs during Bike to Work Week.
One of their favorite events to participate in is Colorado River Days held in September. This week long celebration in Flagstaff raises awareness to issues facing the Colorado River. To celebrate, Criollo exhibits Colorado River inspired art work and they park a replica of an original hand built boat that first went down river. These events bring community together and shed light on the serious issues facing our watershed. Another favorite event is Bike to Work Week held in May. They have bicycle inspired art on the walls and encourage their employees to ride their bikes to work. Every year a local knitter yarn-bombs the bike racks out front.
Cash for Local Change was inspired by SLO Restaurant Concept. This program encourages customers to pay for purchases in cash, with 1% of all cash sales being donated to a local nonprofit. When customers use cash, businesses avoid the percentage of sales that credit card companies take which instantly leaves the local economy. This smart program keeps more money in our state and donates it to those that need it most, versus making credit card companies richer. Cash for Local Change is now run by Full Circle Thrift in Flagstaff.
Paying attention to natural resources and the impact of their business on the environment is a priority at SLO’s restaurants. Local sourcing means products travel less distance to get to them, and they use organic produce whenever possible. In Flagstaff, they partner with Roots Composting to turn their food waste into compost which is used throughout the community. They recycle and seek out recycled packaging materials. They use ecofriendly practices when possible, from rice bran oil for their frying to non-GMO tortillas to compostable cups to reverse osmosis water filtration. The pine used in building Proper and Criollo is locally harvested beetle kill ponderosa. Criollo also contains salvage wood from the Rodeo-Chediski fire that was locally milled at AP Sawmill.
Chef de Cuisine Flip of Criollo during a Navajo inspired Winemaker dinner with Pillsbury Wine.
Hiring practices include seeking a diverse workforce, and making sure that they are providing jobs for people that have history in the region. They support their employees by helping them further their culinary education, including sending them to events and conferences that help inspire them. They have an Employee of the Month program, where workers are chosen for their hard work and commitment, both from the back of the house and front of the house. The restaurant group also provides opportunities for their employees that are interested in the arts by doing employee art shows. During Bike to Work Week, they incentivize employees to pedal to work by entering those that do into a daily raffle for prizes.
Party in the Pines Localist event at Criollo
Local Movement Support
SLO Restaurant Concepts has heavily supported the local movement through supporting Local First Arizona. They have been involved with local foods events including the Arizona Food & Finance Forum, Farmer + Chef Connection, Devoured Culinary Classic and Savor Southern Arizona Culinary Festival. They have been present at several BALLE conferences, which focus on creating local economies and businesses that create prosperity for all. They regularly attend and host Local First Arizona mixers and events. They have measured the impact of their business using the B Corporation Quick Impact assessment.
Local First Arizona is extremely proud of this amazing restaurant group and all that they do for the state. Pay them a visit at any of their four locations to see their good work in action.
Criollo Latin Kitchen, 16 N. San Francisco St, Flagstaff
Brix, 413 N. San Francisco, Flagstaff
Proper Meats, 110 S. San Francisco, Flagstaff
Proper Tucson, 300 E. Congress St, Tucson
The Local Impact Champion series highlights Local First Arizona members who go above and beyond in supporting their local community. For more information, email Helene@localfirstaz.com.