Cork and Knife – Restaurants Tackle Their Own Inconvenient Truth05.07.08

Some restaurant sustainability metrics are assembled by Cork and Knife

The average American meal has a shockingly large carbon footprint, usually traveling 1,500 miles to the plate and emitting large amounts of CO2 in the process, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Each meal created produces 275 pounds of waste a day, making restaurants the worst aggressors of greenhouse gas emissions in retail industry, says the Boston-based Green Restaurant Association [GRA], a non-profit organization that works to create an ecologically sustainable restaurant industry.

A recent NRA [National Restaurant Association] study shows utility costs are a big line item for restaurateurs, accounting for a median of between 2.3 percent and 3.6 percent of sales, depending on the type of operation.

According to Zagat’s 2007 America’s Top Restaurants, 65 percent of surveyors said they would pay more for food that has been sustainably raised or procured. According to 2007 National Restaurant Association research, 62 percent of adults said they would likely choose a restaurant based on its environmental friendliness.

Discussed in the article, which focuses on the Washington DC market, Chef Todd Gray of Equinox (Washington, DC), Chef Barton Seaver of Hook (Washington, DC), Chef Nora Pouillon Restaurant Nora (Washington, DC), Tom Holland of Juice Joint Café, George Velazquez of Napa 1015, Citronelle (Washington, DC), and Maziar Farivar of Peacock Grand. Also briefly mentioned, Sweetgreen, Le Pain Quotidien and CakeLove and JavaGreen both working with Clean Currents.

Posted in 1000 Food, Sourcing and Supplies, 4200 Recycling, GRA, Local, Seafoodwith 1 Comment →

Sweetgreen (Washington, DC)03.10.08

From greasy spoon to designer salads, witness the transformation of a classic burger joint to a mostly-organic GRA-ceritified salad-and-froyo hut at Sweetgreen [flash].

A tiny (less than 600 sq ft) carryout restaurant in pricey Georgetown, Sweetgreen, started by three (sometimes, four) fresh-out-of-college restaurateurs (Nic Jammet, Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru, and sometimes Scott Goldstein) with a bit of a restaurant legacy, features mainly salads (“chef crafted” and build-your-own) and frozen yogurt. Occupying a former Little Tavern space, the renovation includes high-efficiency lighting and reclaimed interior wood.

Media coverage was pretty hot around the opening in Summer 2007 (Sweetgreen offers their own set of clippings [pdf]).

Reviews from the Washingtonian, Washington Post, Washington Times, Washington City Paper, Hoya, American Observer, Food Arts, and the readers of Chowhound.

Other blog coverage, from Metrocurean, DC Fabulous, Restaurant News, Culture Me, DC, and, of course, here.

Posted in Restaurantswith 2 Comments →

Green Restaurants in the Washington Post (Washington, DC)02.09.08

Tracking the breadcrumbs from the Restaurant Reformer introduction to Nora Pouillon, we find the January 16, 2008 Washington Post article, A Tall Order of Green (Walter Nicholls) discusses Le Pain Quotidien, the first Green Restaurant Association restaurant in the District of Columbia and the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) itself. The DC location is part of a Belgian chain with 28 units across the US. They’re also having trouble finding all the necessary support infrastructure, specifically, a company that will haul away compostable kitchen waste (alert: business opportunity).

Among other environmental effects, the GRA says, the U.S. restaurant industry accounts for one-third of all energy used by retail businesses and is five times as energy-intensive as other retail businesses, including lodging. The group cites studies gathered for Dining Green, a book published by the GRA in 2004, showing that on average, every restaurant meal served produces 1 1/2 pounds of trash. Half of that, the GRA says, is food waste that could be composted.

While not GRA-certified, Chef Nora Pouillon has been in this mode for decades. She is specifically looking for certified organic cotton chef jackets and pants (alert: business opportunity).

Now pursuing GRA-certification, Java Shack in Arlington, VA and Sweetgreen in Georgetown.

Java Shack has managed to cut 1/3rd of its water and 2/3rds of its electric costs. They’ve found a composting option and converted to corn-based coffee cups, but the GRA wants additional steps before certification.

The article also cites Grille Zone in Boston as an example, which manages to produce just half a trash bag of waste while serving an average of 150 customers per day.

Posted in 4000 Waste Mitigation, Handling and Disposa, Chefs, GRA, Media Coverage, Restaurantswith 1 Comment →

Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora and Asia Nora (Washington, DC)02.02.08

Opened in 1979, and still one of the most committed examples of organic, seasonal and local restaurant kitchens, we at Restaurant Reformer direct your attention to Nora. In 1999, Nora was the first restaurant in the country certified organic. Chef Nora Pouillon also takes the education of her guests seriously, putting information on the origins and issues around her food right on the menu. She makes no bones about the fact that quality ingredients aren’t cheap.

Following Nora, Asia Nora opened in 1996, bringing Chef Pouillon’s vision to asian-influenced flavors. Asia Nora closed in December of 2007.

Chef Pouillon was honored by the Organic Trade Association in 2004, and she is a founding member of the Seafood Choices Alliance. She’s been named 1997 Chef of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can often find her speaking at various engagements around the country (and the world?).

More on Nora Pouillon in Eat Washington, Star Chefs, Chef2Chef, CNN, and The O’Mama Report.

Cooking with Nora (208 pages of seasonal recipes) is available from Amazon.

Posted in Chefs, Organic, Restaurantswith 1 Comment →

  • You Avatar
  • Help us help you…

    Green Web Hosting! This site hosted by DreamHost.

    Donate towards my web hosting bill!

  • Archives