Bitches love great food, local businesses, and girl bosses, so we were thrilled to sit down for an interview with Danielle Vogel, owner of Glen’s Garden Market, who brings all of those qualities to the table and then some. We have an unbelievable amount of respect for this hard-working, local business owner, who keeps the truth in the term “local” and helps dozens of other small businesses along the way.
Danielle may have started out in politics but, given the long line of grocery store owners in her family, the business is quite literally part of her blood. A fierce advocate of clean energy and responsible climate policy, she is committed to stocking Glen’s Garden Market with local and sustainable brands. In fact, Glen’s promotion of local purveyors has helped launch several small batch local companies.
While you may come to Glen’s to get all of your grocery needs, we keep coming back for the gourmet quality prepared foods and hangover-curing breakfast sandwiches at brunch. We sat down with Danielle to talk the local food movement, sustainability, and her lengthy list of ideal brunch companions (luckily, we were extended an invite!). Read on to see what she had to say.
You have a background working on clean energy and climate issues. How do you see local and sustainable food helping us get to the goal of a cleaner energy supply and a healthier environment?
Glen’s Garden Market exists to make incremental climate change progress – we call it progress, one bite at a time. By sourcing our products and ingredients from farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers, bakers, cheese, pickle, jam and chocolate makers who treat their land, their animals and their ingredients with respect, we’ve cultivated a subset of the very best food coming out of our region. Since we only offer good food from close by, we not only reduce transportation and refrigeration emissions, but everything in our store is at its freshest and most nutrient-dense. In the process, we’re displacing demand for industrially produced food and growing hundreds of local small businesses.
Your family also owned grocery stores when you were growing up. What made you want to follow in their footsteps?
I actually had no interest in following in their footsteps. I never envisioned myself working in the private sector, but rather expected to be working in Congress forever. That said, today’s political climate is not particularly well suited to encouraging progressive energy reform. As a result, I decided to create a business that would make incremental progress in the absence of large-scale legislative change. The store is named after my dad, Glen, and references my great-grandfather’s first grocery, the Garden Market. There is a clear genetic legacy, but we’ve taken Glen’s in a very specific direction that works for our moment in time.
We love women entrepreneurs who create a business around their passions. What advice do you have for women looking to do the same?
Starting a business is incredibly taxing on your time, your emotional resources, your finances and your life, generally. If you’re a work-life-balance type of person, I wouldn’t recommend it. That said, the emotional price of not pursuing your dreams is much higher than the financial consequence of trying and failing.
How have you seen the Washington local and sustainable food scene change in the past few years? Where do you think it’s headed?
It has changed appreciably in the last 3 years because of places like Union Kitchen and Mess Hall. We’ve seen hundreds of small food brands come to market across dozens of categories and some of them have even started to achieve a strong regional presence (the dream!). In the 24 months since we opened our doors, we’ve launched 30 small-batch food brands. That’s a real testament to the quality of what our local food scene is producing right now!
What is your favorite dish to cook for brunch?
Lyon Bakery makes a cheddar jalapeño boule that is cheesy and spicy and makes for an excellent grilled cheese, but an even better savory French toast. I like to beat a couple eggs with some cinnamon and brown sugar and marinate the toast for a half hour. I lay the toast in a hot frying pan with the flat sides facing each other and pour the remaining egg mixture in between, which binds the pieces as they cook, making them look like a frittata when they’re ready. The result is a cheesy, spicy, delicious French toast!
What brunch item do you have to order if it’s on the menu?
Stuffed French toast is just glorious, although I do love blueberry pancakes – and always bottomless mimosas. That’s a thing I can’t pass up. What’s brunch without bottomless mimosas?
Do you prefer Bloody Marys or mimosas?
Without a doubt, I prefer bottomless mimosas. I’ll take André and orange juice until the cows come home. Not entirely brand-consistent, but a favored indulgence nonetheless. That said, Gordy’s makes a spectacular Bloody Mary mix that’s spicy and so packed with goodness it’s almost chewy. It’s absolutely awesome, if that’s your thing.
If you had to invite a group of local celebrities to brunch, who would they be?
I’d love to put together a table of my favorite food personalities in town: Cathal Armstrong [Restaurant Eve], Richie Brandenburg [Union Market], Al Goldberg [Mess Hall], Jonas Singer [Union Kitchen], Bill Butcher [Port City Brewing Company], Rasheed Jabr [Filter] and Thor Cheston [Right Proper]. I’d also invite my husband, Ken Vogel and, of course, you Bitches.