The Stoop Kitchen – Our Social Contract

CommunityEntreprenuershipPhilosophySocial Impact

Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so, or not.” Nathaniel Hawthorne.

As an entrepreneur, much of my life has been spent learning about, formally teaching, and individually mentoring others about theories of, and good practices in finance, marketing, merchandising, logistics, creativity, sustainability, competitive strategies, and many other components of what generally are encompassed in a good business plan.

One of those components for me, always has been “social responsibility,” which has a formal place in the compiled definitional vocabulary of business, as a theory that obligates or incites individuals and companies to act in ways that benefit the greater good of society. Applied to business, it means that a company can be defined as socially responsible if its main objectives, practices, and processes not only respect laws, regulations and their own sustainability, but also contribute to the growth and well-being of the community.

Application of this definition in business is whether, in the first instance, a company affirmatively chooses to fill a “good place” in the world, and if so, how it fills that place. Too often, I have found myself in a place where the company choice was not to fill that place, as it was not the feeling of that business to make social responsibility a part of its business ethic. Social responsibility is an ethical theory, and practice, in which individuals and businesses adopt an accountability for fulfilling civic duty, in which actions must benefit the whole of the community in which they exist. In pursuing this social responsibility, there must therefore be a balance between economic growth of the business and the welfare of community.

The conundrum, of course, is what often appears to be a conflict between the sustainability and success of the business, and the growth and improvement of the community (locally, or in the world). Often, the questions asked are if social responsibility is just a business ruse, used as a conscience palliative and marketing technique, or is it at the ethical core of the business? If it is the core, then how does one practice this without sounding Pollyannaish or “holier than thou” on the one hand, or being business-naïve on the other hand?

In the end, I believe the answer can be found in understanding one’s passion, a clear comprehension and statement of one’s business ethic, including a firm grasp of sustainability, and one’s commitment to consistency and creativity in reaching the desired goal.

Our answer for what The Stoop Kitchen is at its core is a team built of people that wish to be active participants of our community, not just a restaurant in our community.  This will be seen in many facets. You will see this at the end of your fork with our commitment to source at least 80% of our menu from within 50 miles of our restaurant.  What isn’t eaten on the plate (although we hope to find little left on your plate) will go back to the farmers in the form of compost, to close the loop on our food cycle, and nourish their future crops.  You will experience it in our space – as we re-open the doors to a building that has stood for over a hundred years and now is prepared to be the home of casual excellence.

To truly be of our community, it is necessary for us to fulfill the opportunities available to us in our community to help its growth, improvement and betterment. The context of this core value is to use this platform, and the building within which it exists, to serve the community more than food, and to do this in an ongoing and creative manner. We have made the conscious decision to close the kitchen Mondays and Tuesdays to give our staff a consecutive 2-day period to pursue their own interests, while creating the opportunity for our own community programming, as well as to offer community based not-for-profits the space rent free to promote, enhance, and shine a light on their own programming. Last, but far from least, we hope to create a ripple of positivity with our Give It Back Initiative, a bi-monthly profit share with community based not-for-profits in an effort to fortify them as cornerstones of Central New York.

These are our commitments, this is our social contract of responsibility, and we welcome you to join us in the journey.