10 Dec Irregardless wins TBJ Family Business Award
Arthur & Anya Gordon and The Irregardless Cafe & Catering are honored to have received the Triangle Business Journals Family Business Award on Thursday, Dec 7th at a lavish awards ceremony at Prestonwood Country Club.
Irregardless Café & Catering was recognized as a pioneer in the restaurant business in North Carolina, putting into action ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ long before they became buzz words. Opened as Raleigh’s first vegetarian restaurant Irregardless evolved to serving a diverse menu of healthily prepared fresh foods. The Cafe’s and Catering meals encourage their patrons to “eat lower on the food chain”, offering delicious vegan, vegetarian and gluten free meals, as well as meals featuring beef, lamb, seafood, poultry and duck.
Irregardless Cafe and Catering and it’s ventures The Well Fed Community Garden and The Glenwood Event Venue and Catering support the community philanthropically actively in many ways over the years.
Article below was published in the TBJ December 8, 2017 issue Vol. 34, #15
Irregardless Cafe opened its doors on February 4th, 1975 as the community’s first vegetarian restaurant and introduced sustainable practices like sourcing local produce, recycling waste and giving back to the community.
When Irregardless opened, Raleigh was a small southern town with only a handful of restaurants and cafeterias. It’s founding Chef and owner Arthur Gordon had recently graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. Within years of opening, Arthur published a Cookbook for home chefs that featured eco-friendly recipes. Fish and seafood were added Cafe’s vegetarian menu,
In the early 1980’s, Irregardless took the controversial step of becoming the first restaurant in the State of North Carolina to be completely non-smoking, twenty-five years before the State mandated it. This was unheard of in the ‘Tobacco State’! Arthur ‘walked the talk’ and ensured that his patrons and staff enjoyed clean air quality in the Cafe’s dining room. Poultry dishes were added to the menu and Irregardless expanded to a second location downtown and later to managing NC Museum of Art’s restaurant and catering service for twelve years.
In 1994, a fire engulfed the Cafe, closing it for 11 months to rebuild and remodel the dining room and larger kitchen. Fearing for the fate of his long time employees while closed, Arthur continued to pay them their wages in exchange for them volunteering at local non-profits. Irregardless’ misfortune became a blessing for the fledgling Interfaith Food Shuttle, which used Irregardless’ ‘free’ staff to collect day old food to be served to the hungry.
Reopening after the fire, Irregardless added beef and lamb to its menu, while continuing to serve a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals. Arthur’s peaceful and inclusive vision saw Irregardless as a place where the ‘lion and the lamb’ could dine together. At this time, the Cafe also opened for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day as well as New Year’s Eve.
Continuing to innovate, in 2001, the Cafe transitioned Arthur’s informal ‘catering for friends’ and established Irregardless’ Catering Division. Patrons were now able to enjoy their favorite menus at office lunches in board rooms, at weddings around the Triangle, dinner parties in friends’ homes and at Corporate receptions in the corridors of power.
Over the years, the Cafe’s ethical business practices and cuisine garnered many awards: The Triangle Business Journal’s ‘Green ‘For Profit’ Business Leader of the Year’, The Chamber of Commerce’ ‘Pinnacle Business Award for Sustainable Business’, The Institute of Sustainable Development’s ‘Green Plus Small Business of the Year Award’, the City of Raleigh’s ‘Environmental Award in Market Transformation’, the United Arts Council & the Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Business Supporting the Arts Award’ and Open Table’s ranking of Irregardless as a ‘Leading Vegetarian Restaurant in USA’.