At the end of 2013, Gemma stormed onto the Dallas dining scene, revitalizing a once-dormant strip of Henderson Avenue and reinvigorating diners. With its laid-back, coastal vibe and chic California-inspired cuisine, Gemma quickly became one of the city’s most coveted tables, and has become proof that in this city, a restaurant can be equally focused on sustainability and success.
In 2016, Gemma owners Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder announced that they would open a second restaurant, this time focusing on Mediterranean cuisine, cooked impeccably. Shortly after the news broke, Sachet quickly became one of the year’s most anticipated restaurants, and eventually won Eater Dallas’ 2017 restaurant of the year award.
From the beginning, Yoder and Rogers were committed to operating a restaurant that is as successful as it is eco-friendly. When Gemma opened, it was one of the city’s first restaurants to employ a system to deliver wine on tap. They also purchased a pricey water filtration system that would allow them to filter their own still water and carbonate sparkling water instead of buying bottles of pricey San Pellegrino that would eventually have to be recycled. Even in the bathroom, sustainability reigns — cloth towels replace one-use paper towels.
“The same seasonality and environmental consciousness goes for both Gemma and Sachet,” Yoder says. Like Gemma, more than a dozen wines are served on tap, and the water is filtered and fizzed in the restaurant. Like many restaurants across the country Sachet now also only offers plastic straws to its patrons upon request, and all its cooking oil is recycled. For the wines that are served in bottles, employees at Sachet collect all the spent corks and take them to Whole Foods for bulk recycling. And of course, there’s always room for improvement — perhaps in the future, Sachet will consider composting behind the building.
In the kitchen, chef and co-owner Stephen Rogers employs a similar ethos. All seafood on the menu at Sachet is certified sustainable, and produce is sourced from local farms and organic purveyors whenever possible. Vegetables are rotated off the menu when they’re out of season, which helps the restaurant avoid the massive carbon footprint of produce that has been trucked (or flown) across thousands of miles. Small, mezze-style plates dominate much of the menu at Sachet, which can help cut down on food waste caused by giant portions.
In some instances, this obsession with sustainability actually makes the restaurant better. Vegetables grown nearby are allowed to reach their full flavor potential instead of being plucked too early and ripened with gas. Even the wine benefits from a greener approach — storing pricey wine in kegs instead of bottles reduces its exposure to light and oxygen, both of which degrade flavor. As a result, drinkers don’t have to worry about paying $15 for the last glass from a bottle of wine that’s been sitting around for a couple of nights, its flavor dwindling by the hours.
Focusing on sustainability isn’t particularly cheap or easy, but it’s a part of Sachet’s DNA because of Yoder and Rogers. “We know to trust our instincts from the beginning, to go with our gut and ensure that our personality and philosophy are an integral part of every aspect of the restaurant,” Allison Yoder says. “From the design to the staff we hire, we try to make sure that it is somewhat of an extension of Stephen and myself.”
This is the latest in a series of features highlighting Dallas’ 2017 Eater Awards winners. Stay tuned for the next installment.