The Giddy Goat Coffee Roasters is a laidback coffee shop, serving up fresh roasted coffee, delicious Argentinian empanadas, and breakfast-style fares in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Giddy Goat, owned by Rhyne and Lisa Davis, also donates part of the proceeds from the bagged coffee to the the Charlotte Surfrider Chapter and hosts Plaza Midwood Street Sweeps with the Chapter several times a year.
The Charlotte Surfrider Chapter sat down with Carson Clough, co-founder and CEO, and his yellow lab Calder, to talk more about The Giddy Goat's commitment to sustainability and his goal to make the Plaza Midwood community a hub for Ocean Friendly Restaurants.
Photo Credit: Henry Davis
Tell us about The Giddy Goat and its mission.
When starting the business, we wanted to set out and have some sort of purpose along side of it. We decided from day one we were going to try to, and how I like to summarize it is, save the turtles. All of our to-go stuff from our cold cups to our hot cups to lids and straws, we made it a goal to only buy products that were in a more sustainable direction. And at the time that was a lot more difficult question than I thought it would be because you have the options of biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, and reusable. So from a mission standpoint it was figuring out the answer to that question, and from the beginning trying to be the most sustainable business as possible and maybe starting a trend.
Carson Clough, Co-founder and CEO (left) with Clough's lab Calder and Enzo Pazos (right), Team Captain. Photo Credit: Justin Driscoll
What’s the story behind the name and logo?
That is an Ethiopian fable or legend that roasted coffee was discovered by goats in Ethiopia. There was a goat herder called Kaldi, and he noticed these lazy goats would eat these red berries on a bush and get all hyper. One night he was throwing the berries in the fire and noticed a really pleasant smell and that’s when he discovered roasted coffee. We just played off of that story and then wanted to create a logo that kind of showed the personality of what we were trying to create in the shop. We created a goat cartoon with a big smile with the square keys and holding a cup of coffee. We thought that could be a good representation. If you were looking up our logo online or you saw our sign outside, you could kind of get a chuckle at first and then come in and hopefully that’s the vibe you got within the shop.
What motivates your push for sustainability?
I knew that I was going to be starting a business but wanted to have something else to have a purpose for. I wanted another goal within starting a business that did more good rather than something that just created jobs or created revenue—your traditional business. From an environmental and sustainable standpoint, I studied it in college. I’ve always been interested in it. I guess it started off because I’m a beach bum. I grew up at the beach, and I would go on walks with my grandfather and we would just pick up trash on the beach. I had never really understood why we were doing that, but now I have a better, bigger picture on why we did. The goal overall is save the turtles and clean up the ocean. So in everything I do now I try to have that be a part of my daily life.
Photo Credit: Henry Davis
How did you get involved with Surfrider and our Ocean Friendly Restaurants program?
I met Dave from Surfrider separately from a real estate perspective, and we got chatting about how he surfs and then he mentioned the Surfrider Foundation. That’s when I had already started The Giddy Goat and implemented sustainability practices. We hadn’t marketed them at all; it was just sort of what we were doing in the background to have a purpose. We would tell some of our customers and teach them what we had learned on compostable and the different measures we were taking to be a more sustainable restaurant. And then we just got chatting, and I wanted to figure out how to be a part of the Surfrider Foundation. We had a meeting at the shop and quickly found out that we had basically completed most of the criteria. There were a few changes. I had to get rid of some plastic smoothie bottles. There was one other thing we were doing that I didn’t know we shouldn’t have been, and we learned that so that was nice. From there we connected and got involved.
And we started setting up cleanups where we would do cleanups at The Giddy Goat, put out some coffee, let people enjoy coffee, walk around, pick up trash, and put the trash from the Plaza Midwood neighborhood into our old coffee sacks. Then we would weigh it out and every time we would get a report on how much trash we picked up, usually on Saturday mornings. We are trying to get that more on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis from people in the neighborhood. It’s a good way to start off your Saturday morning.
Giddy Goat Staff and the Surfrider Charlotte Chapter
What advice do you have for other restaurants that want to be ocean-friendly?
Set your mind to it, put out a goal, and make the goal attainable. You’re not going to change the world at first. But just trying to make a small difference and slowly staying with that, being consistent, and adding to it would be my advice.
What are your goals for the future?
My overall goal was to test out the sustainable practices, put my money where my mouth is, then hopefully still come out lightly from a business standpoint or come out with profits, and go to other businesses in Charlotte and say, "Hey, here’s the model I've tested out. Here is what you will lose, here is what you will gain. But in the end it’s not going to hurt your business so much, and it will substantially help the sustainability practices within Charlotte."
So the ultimate goal was to create a model that was easy to share. I feel like I’ve created the model, and the easy to share part hasn’t happened yet but that’s just getting it on paper, and that’s where Surfrider, these interviews, getting Tanner from The Workman's Friend and other restaurants involved. We are starting to make it to where people can replicate it, and so it’s going to be fun. We were able to do it from a coffee shop perspective, and Workman’s is doing it from a bar perspective. Then we can go to restaurants whether they open at 6 am or 6 pm and say, "Hey here are some of the sustainability practices you can implement and hopefully boost your business."
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