When I started in the restaurant business almost fourteen years ago, the first thing I noticed was that I was very tired at the end of the day. This is not a business for those that can’t stand up for, sometimes, 16 hours a day. It didn’t help that I had been sitting at a desk for ten years.
The second thing I noticed was that lots of food and paper goods were thrown away each day. And that we ran water all the time, that gas burners were going for hours on end, and that the lights were on from 2 hours before opening to 2 hours after closing (and some were on all night).
For someone that grew up as a bit of an environmentalist (I clearly remember being nine years old and watching the Keep America Beautiful PSA with Iron Eyes Cody crying about litter) it struck me that restaurants are inherently wasteful.
Luckily, at Corner Kitchen, we had (and have) a crew that was very willing to help us with solutions to some of these problems. My business partner, Joe Scully, who is good at coming up with simple solutions to difficult problems, helped us with places to put our recycling.
Next, we partnered with Danny Keaton of Danny’s Dumpster to help us compost. Danny’s takes all food products, including meat scraps, and turns them into some of the most beautiful compost you’ve ever seen (or smelled). And, with the compost not going in the landfill dumpster, we lowered our garbage output to less than half what it was before.
The most ambitious step to becoming a green Asheville restaurant was to partner with the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) to attempt to become a Certified Green Restaurant. The little house at 3 Boston Way is lovely and is one of the last remaining in Historic Biltmore Village. But it is not what anyone would call energy efficient.
The GRA is very good at their job and helped us focus on a lot of small ways in which we could save energy, reduce waste and, not incidentally, maybe save a little money.
Now, many LED lights, water flow reducers, compostable to-go containers, paper straws, local farm purchases, one big daddy computerized water heater, and several other appliances later, we are over five years into our Three Star Green Certification. It’s just part of how we exist now.
We are, first and foremost, a restaurant. We want you to love our hand-crafted food and how we take care of you.
But I thought you might also want to know about this other side of the Corner Kitchen. It is one of the most satisfying projects we have undertaken.