The Brothers Lane will be satisfied at nothing. No waste, that is. Founders of the country’s first zero-waste grocery, brothers Joseph, Patrick, and Christian Lane, along with partner Christopher Pepe, were concerned about how much food packaging gets thrown in the garbage, and wanted to see if they could create a grocery store outside the loop that contributes to the over 700,000 tons of garbage that goes into American landfills every day. They could, and they do it with style. in.gredients is a friendly, warm, welcoming community spot, with vegetable beds out front, rockers on the porch, and inviting picnic tables that fill up with neighbors meeting for beer, wine, and locally-made bites out front every happy hour. It may be a store with a small footprint, but in.gredients offers worlds of inspiration both culinary and environmental. We meet up with Joseph Lane to talk food, company ethos, and being the change he wants to see in the world.
*photography by Thomas Winslow
Tell your brand story in 5 words.
Zero waste, great local food.
Required reading for every food entrepreneur?
Seeing as a lot of food entrepreneurs are driven by their love for food and not business, I recommend reading up on running a business. Entrepreneur magazine and the like.
What was your first job?
Pharmacy check-out wiz at Eckerd Pharmacy.
What has been your greatest mistake?
Aside from not buying gold at $800/ounce?
What is your biggest motivator?
Failure. It’s great to learn from your mistakes but it’s better to learn from someone else’s.
What other businesses do you come back to again & again?
What’s your next big idea?
No big ideas for anything new. We’re now focused on continuous improvement of our operations.
If you weren’t running a successful 0% waste community market, what would you be doing?
Continuing to run our other businesses (Praecipio Consulting and Patrick Lane Photography).
How do you measure success?
Depends… we’ve got a strong background in systems, so we rely heavily on numbers. Aside from that, we measure success based on personal happiness, employee happiness, and customer satisfaction/repeat business.
Where do you get culinary inspiration?
From the produce section at in.gredients!
What’s your favorite ingredient?
Onions. They make everything better.
What flavors inspire memories for you?
Lime – my grandparents had a huge lime tree when I was a kid. And thai chilies hitting hot oil. A very distinctive (and painful) smell that takes me back to studying abroad in Bangkok.
Tell us about your dream dinner party–you can invite six guests (real, imaginary, living, or dead) to dinner-what, who, & where?
Who: Grandma Oleta, Willie Nelson, President Obama, Bernie Mack, Julia Child, and my best friend since childhood, Faez.
What: For appetizers, onion and beet greens frittata, skewered and roasted chicken hearts and livers. For entrée, roasted feral hog leg, fire roasted beets, stewed zucchini, red pepper and tomato orzo. For dessert, dates stuffed with marscapone and honey, and watermelon.
Where: At my kitchen table.
What inspires you?
Inspiration is all around us, from hearing a moving song lyric to seeing random acts of kindness.
What gets you to work every morning?
Our employees and my business partners. We’ve got a great crew working at in.gredients and Brothers Lane; it’s a fun place to work.
What is your favorite cookbook?
I don’t use cookbooks, but I do rely on the internet for guidance. I’m particularly fond of the blog aggregator TasteSpotting.
Who is your culinary idol?
I’m a big fan of Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Chris Cosentino, Alton Brown, and the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen. Locally, I love what Sonya Cote at Hillside Farmacy and Paul Qui at East Side King are doing.
Tell us about your lucky break?
Being born to a great family that values hard work, personal integrity, and education.
Who is your business idol?
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my grandfather, including a strong work ethic and how to treat people. My grandfather is a self-made man who only achieved a middle school education, yet is among the smartest people I know. He worked his way up from sweeping factory floors as a newly married teenager to eventually owning his own clothing factories. With regard to treating people with respect and dignity, my grandfather provided an interest-free microfinance fund for his employees to better their homes and lives. This was well before any of us had heard about what Dr. Muhammad Yunus was doing.
Words of wisdom:
“Be the author of your own horoscope.” – Common
And don’t wait for others to make you great because it’ll never happen. Take calculated risks.
“Kitchen Inspirations” : Frittata with Spring Onion, Chard & Chevre
see more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers