real food 23rd annual thanksgiving
Organic Vegan Cuisine

Ann Tells The History of RFD

Opening day. Although I had operated RFD as a successful home food delivery service for five years, we were stunned that a crowd of 100 people showed up, without advertising, on our very first day in the restaurant business—June 21, 1993. Customers were drawn in by the inviting, stylish space, and they were even more excited about the gourmet vegan cuisine. While some people had discouraged me from opening a restaurant limited to vegan foods and organic produce, I was convinced that enough diners wanted to eat whole foods in a restaurant they could trust. From opening day to the present, they’ve proven that hunch was right—in both good times and bad.

Temporary setback. In January 1994, only seven months after opening, a serious earthquake struck Los Angeles. While nobody at RFD was hurt, our building was: The parapet fell into rubble in front of the restaurant, and it took four months to clean everything up. In the meantime, RFD was inundated with phone calls, handwritten messages, and business cards left at the front door asking when the restaurant would reopen, with several people asking how they could help. During that time, I realized that RFD was bigger than a restaurant—it was a lifestyle. Buoyed by the outpouring of support, we did our part to rebuild the neighborhood, feeding plenty of construction workers along the way, and reopened four months later. And in 1998, we opened a second RFD location in West Hollywood, with its own distinct vibe.

RFD today. At RFD, we enjoy surprising our guests. With a mission statement that has us working to raise the standards of plant-based restaurants by providing fresh, delicious, and unique meals of plant origin; educated, friendly, consistent, and efficient service; and a clean, upbeat, and contemporary environment, we defy expectations of what health food tastes like, and the setting in which it’s enjoyed.

Our food Our food is balanced according to Eastern health philosophies and heart-healthy Western nutrition recommendations and is made from fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant- proteins and high-quality natural condiments. We use certified organic non-GMO oils. Farmers using certified organic farming methods grow nearly all of our produce and ingredients. Our food is made fresh in our restaurant and bakery kitchens, by hand, with skill and love. Except for a few items, we do not buy pre-made food products. The few items purchased from outside suppliers are made from high-quality organic ingredients in a “hands on” kitchen environment.Our food is free of: animal products (flesh, dairy, eggs, butter, cholesterol, saturated fats), preservatives, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, trans-fats, soy-isolates and genetically modified organisms. Our water is softened, passed through charcoal filters and then purified through a triple reverse osmosis filter. We add back a balanced mix of minerals producing healthy, pleasant tasting water used in our food and beverages and served to you for drinking. Please inform your server if you have any food allergies. We are not an allergen-free environment as our kitchen operations involve shared cooking and prep areas. Therefore, we are unable to guarantee that any item is free from any aller- gen and we assume no responsibility for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.

Our customers.Because our food is so clean and pure, people following a variety of strict dietary guidelines—whether for ethical, health, or religious reasons—find themselves with a lot to choose from here. Visit to let us know what kind of RFD eater you are. To find out the many reasons why embracing an organic plant-based diet is one of the best-tasting and smartest ways to go green.

Ann on RFD and Sustainability

Real Food Daily has always been a champion of the environment by virtue of serving organic plant-based fare: Eating a plant-based diet goes further than any other single effort—including driving a hybrid car—to lower one’s carbon footprint and help preserve the environment. As the word gets out that truly going green means going meatless, we’re proud to continue offering the same fantastic vegan fare that makes doing the right thing so delicious. And we’ve taken our commitment to sustainability further, too.

The fare. RFD serves a 100-percent plant-based menu—no meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs, butter, cholesterol, or saturated fats from animals or animal by-products. While vegetarians have long known that their diet is a much more sustainable one than eating meat, this revelation has recently exploded into the mainstream: The United Nations is recommending going meatless one day a week as a way to combat climate change, and Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health has spearheaded its Meatless Monday initiative with the stated goal of reducing meat consumption by 15 percent to improve personal health and that of the planet. Across the pond, Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday does the same thing, urging socially responsible people to go vegetarian at least one day a week. And The PB&J Campaign makes its point in a simple but compelling way: “Each time you have a plant-based lunch like a PB&J, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch.”

These days, it’s hard for socially responsible consumers to ignore the bloated volume of water, energy, and land that it takes to raise animals and convert them to food—especially when compared to the fraction of those resources that are needed to produce plant-based foods.

The ingredients. Nearly all of the produce used at RFD is grown on local organic farms using organic methods—in fact, I’ve been committed to cooking with organics since 1988. Organic produce not only supports personal health by keeping chemicals out of our food and water supply, it also supports the health of our environment: Organic farmers have to build their soil the old-fashioned way, through compost, crop rotation, and cover cropping. Farmers who use chemicals instead deplete topsoil, degrading what took nature millions of years to produce, polluting the environment, the water supply, and the resulting produce in the process. Here at RFD, we also buy locally as much as possible: Locally grown produce not only reminds us to cook seasonally, which always tastes better, but it also keeps our produce from logging so many wasteful, pollution-producing miles during transit.

The water. At RFD, the water we cook with and serve has been filtered and purified with our state-of-the-art reverse osmosis water filtration system: It first filters out many harmful chemicals and impurities from the water with charcoal filters, then balances the mineral content, and finally passes through a reverse-osmosis filter to further purify the water. The result is healthy, safe, clean, and fantastic-tasting water. It’s a sensible alternative to buying water that’s been trucked in thousands of miles in plastic bottles, which aren’t good for you or the environment. In fact, many RFD customers bring their empty water containers with them when they dine here, to fill up on our clean, pure drinking water.

To-go containers. RFD uses biodegradable to-go containers as part of Santa Monica’s citywide ban on polystyrene and non-recyclable plastic. Polystyrene, commonly used for foam containers and disposable cutlery, doesn’t biodegrade, isn’t easily recyclable, and is notorious for winding up as unsightly and unhealthy litter. Of course, we use these same green take out containers at all RFD locations

Compost. Kitchen scraps like carrot tops, onion peels, and coffee grounds don’t belong in the trash can—this organic matter can be easily composted and used for landscaping or gardening, adding more nutrients back to the soil and keeping our contributions to the landfill to a minimum. That’s why RFD is part of a local composting program, which keeps all of our compostable scraps right where they belong.

Sustainability. RFD SaMo is certified by the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program as a green business. Click logo below to read about SaMo’s greening efforts!

Read Ann’s Blog here.