Episode 99 | How Erik Oberholtzer Turned Tender Greens Into a Multi-Million Dollar Success with Conscious Capitalism 

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AWE Episode graphic Erik Oberholtzer

Food for thought – what we eat matters.

It might seem obvious, but the daily decision about what we eat has implications that ripple through our lives in unexpected ways.

It’s not just about how our food choices affect things like our mood and overall health and well-being (although that’s obviously super important). The seemingly trivial question of what we eat and how we eat it defines our relationship to the global food supply, and in this way shapes our impact on the world we all share.

No one understands this better than Erik Oberholtzer, the co-founder and CEO of Tender Greens.

A classically trained chef, Erik cut his teeth in fine dining establishments in places like San Francisco, cooking for the city’s wealthy elite.

Fed up with “cooking for the 1%,” Erik moved south to LA and launched Tender Greens, a “fine casual” concept specializing in healthy, delicious, and sustainable food at a price point anyone can enjoy.

But that’s not all. Embedded in the Tender Greens concept is the importance of making a positive impact on the community. That’s why they work directly with local farmers and ranchers, and hire homeless youths in their restaurants through their Sustainable Life Project.

It’s all part of what Erik calls “conscious capitalism,” the idea that you can create a business where all stakeholders can win – consumers, shareholders, and society at large.

Erik joined co-host Sean Spear in the Awesome Office studio to talk about the origin of the Tender Greens brand, Erik’s leadership style, and how travel has impacted his view on life and business.

Erik also revealed an early fundraising strategy that is both ingenious and pragmatic – enabling local family farms to invest in the business by trading stock for things like heirloom tomatoes and butter lettuce.

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