Inspired by the Our Food Future goals, Elora-based restaurant plans to grow their own produce and create new circular collaborations
Becky Lalui had been working in the restaurant industry for many years and always knew she and her partner, Ardin Lalui would open a restaurant of their own one day. When the space below where they lived became available, they jumped on the opportunity to make their dream a reality. The pair created The Friendly Society, a licensed neighborhood restaurant and bar in the heart of Elora. While Ardin is a writer, being married to Becky provided him the opportunity to spend a lot of time in restaurants, seeing all the possibilities for culinary creativity. Now they find great joy in working on their own restaurant together: The Friendly Society.
Located by the Grand River in downtown Elora, The Friendly Society plans to use the space in and around their restaurant to grow produce to then use in their menu items. Hearing about the Seeding Our Food program through Wellington Waterloo Community Futures, Becky and Ardin were inspired by the Our Food Future goals. Though they have limited experience, they thought it would be a terrific opportunity for positive change. Through the funding and mentorship provided, The Friendly Society has been working to learn all that they can about growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs by engaging with local experienced professionals. They decided that a great starting point is to make use of all their organic waste by installing compost bins in the empty outdoor space. Outside of the restaurant they will use this compost to grow food, and inside they will use it to grow herbs on windowsills and possibly, even a wall garden. Kitchen staff are all enthusiastic about these exciting changes, and Ardin notes that Elora is the perfect location for this venture as many residents are passionate about environmentally conscious initiatives.
The Friendly Society believes the world is naturally a circular system. Everything from produce to pollution is a part of it. Having their sustainable circular practices visible to the public is important to Ardin and Becky, as they aim to inspire others to think about where their food comes from. At The Friendly Society, customers will be able to see the circularity of their food: the compost outside, the produce growing before their eyes, and the connection to what is being served on their plates. It is their hope that people will notice that the outdoor gardens are not just greenery, but are distinctive fruit trees, vegetables, and edible flowers. As they continue to build their knowledge of fruit tree horticulture, hydroponics, and regenerative agriculture, Becky and Ardin anticipate creating new collaborations with local food businesses in the Guelph-Wellington region.