Meet Nat Stratton-Clarke, the owner of Seattle’s Cafe Flora in Madison Valley, Flora Bakehouse in Beacon Hill, and Floret in the SeaTac Airport. Since its opening in 1991, Cafe Flora has been a pioneering vegetarian restaurant at the forefront of Seattle’s local, organic, and sustainable foods movements. In 2008, then general manager Nat Stratton-Clarke, acquired the restaurant, and has maintained its community-oriented spirit ever since. Nat tries to work with other small businesses as much as possible and sources produce from local farms. Even the art is locally-sourced — Flora Bakehouse is decorated with a mural from Carolina Silva of Dorotea Ceramics.
Get to know more about Nat in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
In January we opened a brand new bakery, The Flora Bakehouse on Beacon Hill! I am also the proud papa of amazing twin toddlers.
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
The craziest it’s ever been for me as a business owner has without a doubt been during the pandemic. It really forced us as a company to get incredibly creative and think way outside the normal parameters. For Thanksgiving, we transformed our standard, prix-fixe from a white linen tablecloth sit-down to 600 takeout meal boxes! Plus, launching a miniature food pantry and wine shop in the Cafe Flora dining space when we could not host indoor dining. Outside of the pandemic, launching Floret at the airport was a giant leap of faith and I think a lot of people were surprised by it, to be honest. But it was very clear to us that there was a void for our type of food at the airport. Given that the airport is people’s first and last impression of Seattle, I feel as though it’s so important to give a true, authentic representation of the kind of food we can create here utilizing the bounty of fresh, local produce we have available to us.
What are some of your favorite local businesses and what do you love about them?
One of my favorite small-businesses is a repair shop called Repair Revolution. It’s owned by a really good friend of mine named Eli. It’s an awesome trans-owned auto repair shop and is really community focused and community minded. I think sometimes when people think about small businesses they don’t think about things like where they are getting their car repaired, and I think Repair Revolution just does an incredible job and deserves a shout out. Him and I have our tiny trans-owned business club, where we take ourselves out for drinks every so often and talk about being a trans-owned business. And another [business], Hannah Morgan has this great company called Fortunate Orchard. She’s just an amazing woman-owned, POC-owned florist. She does all of the beautiful bouquets we have on the counter at Flora Bakehouse, and she also takes care of all of our plants at Floret. She’s just super awesome.