If you're hip to CSAs—community supported agriculture, where you pay upfront for a "subscription" to fresh food from a farm—then you might want to keep your eyes open for the latest trend, CSRs: community supported restaurants.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of checking out a sort of "pre-opening" party for a new restaurant and marketplace selling fast, convenient, chef-inspired food in Boulder, Colorado that's also healthy, gluten-free, GMO-free, vegan (except for the meat, which omnivores can add) and allergy-friendly.
But the really exciting aspect of the Fresh Thymes Eatery (besides the fact that the food is crazy delicious), is that they're using a CSR model to help with their startup costs. Here's how the website describes it:
Members give a certain amount of money to Fresh Thymes Eatery up front. Then all that community cash goes straight to helping us launch the restaurant. Once we're in business, you get repaid in all sorts of super fresh perks, including discounts, monthly comped meals, members-only foods, swag, private dinners and other valuable bonuses. You even get your name on our Founders Wall.
It’s "localvesting" at it’s best, and now’s your chance to be a part of the freshest times (pun intended) Boulder has ever seen.
Investors can choose their committment level from $250 all the way up to $5,000, and the perks vary at the different levels as well. Two hundred and fifty dollars a year will get you two free meals per month and access to member-only specials, while the $5,000 level nets you all kinds of perks, from free meals and activities with the chef and founder to tickets to a private dinner and three member-only gifts per month.
Turns out, this business model is a growing trend, especially with farm-to-plate-style restaurants. The Travel and Leisure blog says CSRs are, "A natural next step in the increasing obsession with hyper-local food, CSRs allow customers to become small investors in local eateries, giving them perks such as free meals—as well as a vested interest in seeing the restaurant succeed."