Skip navigation

Why Denver fast casual Tocabe built its own supply chain

Inside the two-unit Native American concept’s mission to source ingredients from native tribes.


When Ben Jacobs cofounded Tocabe in Denver in 2008 with his business partner Matt Chandra, he wanted to not only shine a spotlight on the foods of Native American tribes, but also to support those tribes by sourcing ingredients from them.

It was a task that took several years and a global pandemic to pull off. But in the midst of COVID-19, Jacobs and Chandra were able to spend more time piecing together a supply chain that sourced ingredients like wild rice, red quinoa and bison from tribes around the U.S.

Jacobs joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to discuss that process, plus how they support those tribes beyond the menu and how they’re rethinking their store format and labor structure following valuable lessons brought about by COVID.

In this conversation, you’ll find out why:

  • Restaurants focused on a particular cuisine are only scratching the surface 
  • The stories of ingredients are as important as the stories of the recipes they’re in 
  • To ensure quality sourcing, sometimes you need to build your own supply chain
  • Your entire concept — beyond the menu — can reflect your purpose and mission
  • By empowering your team to share their opinions, you’ll have happy customers and employees

Have feedback or ideas for Take-Away? Email Sam at [email protected]


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.