The other day, I stood on the corner of a strip mall which has a PF Chang’s a Starbucks, a Pasta Pomodoro and a Chipotle restaurant. As folks were making their friday dinner plans, I briefly interrupted some of them. I had just one question to ask. It went something like this. “If you survey the restaurants in this complex you find quite a variety in terms of cuisine and dining environment and potentially service. If I told you one of these restaurants was also eco-friendly and green would it matter in your decision of where you go eat tonight?” That’s it a simple Yes or No answer. No multiple choices, or exacting details or weighted probabilities to get to an expected value answer. No this was not going to be an exercise in testing Mr. Baye’s conditional theorems in probability. While the answer did not surprise me it was heartwarming nonetheless. 70% of those surveyed (ok the sample size was small at 10 and I know this is not the most of scientific surveys) said “yes it mattered to them and that if a restaurant was making efforts to be eco-friendly, they would factor it into their decision matrix” Hurray for restaurants – well atleast for those who get it! And that is the topic today.
A quick survey by one of my pals yielded the following list of eating establishments that have decided to take steps in becoming eco-friendly. In no particular order these are:
Now, again this is not an exhaustive survey of the landscape. Clearly there are others with equal or more robust programs that we have not mentioned above. There are potentially the bigger restaurant chains, or the smaller mom & pop restaurants (reach out if you are a mom & pop restaurant doing your little bit to be sustainable, we want to know). We know this is not the complete list. The point is the restaurants mentioned above get it.
Next we drilled down a few of these restaurants’ green programs to see what they were involved in. Carinos for example has a cool roof program which uses high solar reflectance material to bounce back the heat so it requires less energy to keep its restaurant cool. In Texas this chain claims that 30 of its restaurants get a part of their energy requirements met by using wind energy. They also use energy star equipment and bulbs, as well as have a cooking oil recycle program. Way to go Carinos! Others have similar programs. At Rendezvous a Cambridge Massachusetts restaurant the owners and employees walk to work or use some form of public transportation. They religiously separate trash and encourage and have gotten their patrons to agree that bottled water is probably not such a good idea! Roots Gourmet goes one step further. It gives 10% off to diners if they ride their bikes to eat! Talk about building an appetite and watching your carbon footprint at the same time. All of their coffee and tea is organic and fair trade obtained. And the list goes on for others in many different categories.
As I closed out on my survey that evening, I realized that a lot of folks get the trend. A lot of dine out patrons want this to continue and blossom at their favorite dining places. A lot of folks get it. Yes, restaurants going green is a market embodiment of patrons desiring sustainable practices and choices in the places they prefer to put their dollar. Both restaurants and you the readers and diners get it indeed! Happy eating