Bringing MORE To The Table The Front BurnerYour guide to knowledge for the restaurant industryUnderstanding The Conflict Between LocalGreen Terms Food & Local GovernmentHow To Get LEED Certified 5 Water Saving Tips for& Why You Should Your Restaurant 800.447.4941
Going Green “Going green” – it’s something most companies want to do, Achieving a level of service that exceeds or at least appear to be doing, your customer’s expectations isn’t easy. for their customers. We know how hard you work to make that happen – and just how difficult that can be. Even so, great customer service can be ex- tremely rewarding, both personally and pro- fessionally. We certainly believe that here at Tundra. Like you, we understand that excel- lent service is a cornerstone of our success.The food service industry is no exception, and as the importance of the One thing is certain: attention to detail is thegreen restaurant trend has grown, so has confusion about what “green” re- foundation upon which all great customerally means and how to implement green programs in your restaurant. service is built. From a chipped water glassThis edition of The Front Burner is intended to help clear the air for restaurant to dirty hood filters or fry pans, keeping your restaurant up to date tells your customersowners. From discerning what green terms like “biodegradable,” “com- exactly how much you care long before apostable,” and “recyclable” really mean to practical advice on how to server ever touches the table.save water, the articles you’ll find inside cover practical ways to make your Updating equipment and supplies in youroperation run in a more sustainable way. restaurant have other benefits as well. Prod- ucts in the food service industry are advanc- ing at a fast pace, and the newest releases from the major manufacturers you’ve been Perhaps more important than the question “How?” is “Why?” using for years are more efficient, better de-There are two main reasons why an effective green program is signed, and heavier duty than older versions. important for your business: Better tools means improved labor and en- ergy efficiency in addition to creating an aesthetically pleasing environment not only for your customer, but your employee’s ex-Customers appreciate your efforts. The National Restaurant Association has perience as well. Labor efficiencies gainedlisted green restaurant programs as one of the hottest trends of 2010. As from better designed equipment allow youtime goes on, customers are becoming more and more aware of which to serve customers faster and with a betterfood service operators are investing in green practices and which ones are quality product. Energy efficiency, and in- deed sustainability as a whole, is somethingnot, and making their buying decisions accordingly. your customer cares about deeply, and that makes it an important part of your customer service efforts.Green programs increase your efficiency and save you money. Conserv- Regular replenishment of the supplies anding water doesn’t just sound good to your customer, it also reduces your equipment that make your restaurant workmonthly utility bill. There are many ways you can improve your operating ef- requires steady investment, to be sure. Yetficiencies and market those improvements to your customers as legitimate the opportunity to improve your customer’sparts of your green program. experience, streamline operations, and cut energy expenses all at the same time makesWhether you’re interested in going green out of personal conviction, a de- the effort more than worthwhile.sire to connect with your customers, or a drive to reduce operating costs,the reasons for developing an effective program for your restaurant areclear.The products and strategies you need to get started on your own greenprogram are all right here in this edition of The Front Burner! Michael Lewis Tundra Founder
Understanding kes od ma steGreen Terms er fo Leftov of the wa % up 50 uced by a t prod restauran l typicaAny restaurateur interested in making their restaurant more green has encountered theseterms before. The problem is, just because a product claims it is compostable, biodegrad-able, or recyclable doesn’t make it so.Making the right decisions to green your restaurant in a way that makes sense for your busi- Recyclableness means you need to know the difference between these terms and the impact they can The truth is, just about anything can be re-have on your buying decisions. cycled, and surely you have seen the little tri- angle with a number inside it on most plasticThe most common product used in restaurants that uses all three of these terms is plastics. products claiming it’s recyclable.More than likely your restaurant uses small wares like cups and utensils, and many productsyour kitchen uses are packaged using plastics. The problem? The company or local govern- ment agency that does your recycling limitsHere are some tips to understanding your options when it comes to what they recycle.plastic products: Check with your recycler to verify which types of plastics they Compostable accept. Training staff and getting customers to re-Compostable plastic products have the highest green threshold. This means any product cycle the right productsclaiming to be compostable should be viewed with a certain skepticism because it really is can be very difficult,hard to make a plastic that conforms to the definition of compostable. but many restaurantsCompostable products break down naturally into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass at have had success withthe same rate as cellulose or paper (usually about 180 days) in an industrial or municipal comprehensive recycling programs.composting facility. Compostable materials do not leave a toxic residue and cannot be The main ingredient to success is creating adistinguished from the rest of the compost after full degradation. clear set of guidelines and communicating The most important issues in this definition are where the plastic is put to compost those guidelines to your staff and customers. and whether any toxic residue is left after degradation. A municipal or industrial composting facility breaks down composting materials What Should Your differently than a farm or in-house composting unit. Plastics are given a com- postable designation based on how they degrade in a larger industrial facility, Restaurant Do? which means they may not be compostable using other methods. Compostable products are more expensive to buy. But in many cases the extra expense Since the availability of large scale composting facilities is limited, it’s important can be at least partially recouped through re- to know that a compostable plastic may degrade more slowly before deciding duced waste disposal.if it can be used in a smaller scale compost facility. Leftover food makes up 50% of the wastePLA and Master-Bi corn starch based plastics are the two most common types of composta- produced by a typical restaurant. If this plusble plastics. However, these resins are also sometimes mixed with inorganic substances to compostable plastics like cups were removedmake them more heat resistant or for other purposes, meaning they do not always qualify as from the waste you produce and compostedcompostable. instead, significant savings can be realized.Plant-based plastics have the added benefit of being “carbon neutral,” meaning that the Perhaps more importantly, a majority of con-carbon dioxide emitted to produce them is offset by the carbon dioxide absorbed by the sumers respond favorably to restaurants thatplants used to make the plastic. engage in green practices.Any plastic that leaves a toxic residue after degrading is not compostable but can be des- Get feedback from customers before invest-ignated biodegradable. ing in more expensive compostable products. If it looks like you can improve customer loy- Biodegradable alty and branding by doing so, and the addi- tional expense makes sense after accountingBiodegradable products break down over time into smaller and smaller chunks as a result of for marketing benefits and waste disposal sav-the action of agent enzymes produced by bacteria or fungi. This process can leave behind ings, then there’s no reason why your businesstoxic chemicals and still be designated as biodegradable. shouldn’t invest.The problem is, no standard exists for the amount of time a product takes to biodegrade. And Chances are the products you use now areno requirement exists for the addition of agents like bacteria to aid the degradation process. biodegradable, so there’s no real benefit inThis means that most products are labeled “biodegradable” as a way to promote their sup- pursuing products that market this designa-posed environmentally friendly capabilities when in fact most of these products do nothing tion. And as long as you’re reducing wasteto help reduce waste or emissions. Biodegradable sounds good to the consumer but really costs, implement a recycling program thatdoesn’t help green your restaurant at all. saves the types of plastics local recyclers ac- cept and gives you some real credibility whenIf you are looking to improve the green practices of your restaurant, go for compostable you say “green restaurant.”products over biodegradable ones whenever you can.
One Vision, Many PlacesIf you’re at all familiar with the favorite local haunts of Boulder anddowntown Denver, then you probably know a Big Red F restaurant 950 Pearl Streetor two, even if that name doesn’t ring a bell. Big Red F is a group ofunique concepts started by Culinary Institute of America graduate, Boulder, COformer Q’s Restaurant owner, and Boulder native Dave Query. Big Red 303-442-7771F’s concepts are as varied as they are fun, including Zolo SouthwesternGrill, Jax Fish House, Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, andThe West End Tavern. 835 Walnut StreetAs differently as each concept approaches their cuisine, all of Chef Boulder, COQuery’s restaurants take a singular approach to guest services, and 303-442-3050anyone who has visited a Big Red F restaurant can tell you exactly howthat feels. Anyone who walks through the door is treated as a friendand a welcome guest at an exclusive party where the host knows ex-actly what he’s doing. 1575 Boulder StreetChef Query sums it up the best: “Running a successful restaurant is like Denver, COjuggling ice cubes on a hot day: you have to be quick and precise, 720-570-8686sourcing the freshest foods, being the home of all things seasonal, andkeeping the chalkboards constantly fresh in an effort to do your verybest to serve an incredibly fresh product smack in the middle of theRocky Mountains. This is what we try to accomplish at our restaurantsevery single day.” Big Red F restaurants view sustainability as an integral part of customer 2525 Arapahoe Ave service, and since service is a thing they Boulder, CO “...our eco-friendly take very seriously, each restaurant is 303-449-0444 dedicated to reaching a high bar. All pa- practices are per products and many plastic products,important to us and including straws and trash bags, are ei- our customers” ther compostable or recyclable. Big Red F offsets 100% of its energy usage with 936 Pearl Street wind power and CFL light bulbs are used whenever possible. Most Big Boulder, CO Red F restaurants are also either PACE (Partners For A Clean Environ- 303-444-3535 ment) certified or in the process of getting certification.Bryce Clark, Big Red F’s PR director, explains why sustainable practic-es are so important: “Some things like having CFL light bulbs save usmoney down the road, but most of our eco-friendly practices are just 928 Pearl Street 1539 17th Streetimportant to us and our customers. Our customers come into our res-taurants not only for the experience, but also because we care about Boulder, CO Denver, CObeing socially responsible. To us it goes hand in hand with helping out 303-444-1181 303-292-5767the community.”The synergy between Big Red F and their community reveals how pow-erful great customer service can be when you’re in tune with morethan just a customer’s desire to eat great food. You may make reservations for any Big Red F Restaurant at opentable.com
How Restaurants Can Turn Food Scraps Into EnergyWhat if you could take all of the food waste the wastewater treatment plant onsite andyour restaurant produces and turn it into several large-scale local industries like vine-electricity? The East Bay Municipal Utility Dis- yards and dairies. But 30 million tons of foodtrict of San Francisco intends to do just that. scraps are sent to landfills each year, which They launched an am- makes up more than 20% of all landfill waste. Food Scraps bitious project last year make up more that can convert up to That means there’s a lot of room for improve- ment. The best part about the process is that a than 20% of 200 tons of food scraps rich fertilizer is the byproduct of breaking down landfill waste. gathered from area res- all that waste, which can help local organic farms supply restaurants with taurants into electricity more produce. The primary obstacle to wider adoption of organic elec-every week. The power generated from the tricity is a lack of processing plants. That could change rapidly in the nextproject is used in some of the very same res- ten years as sustainable electricity gains more momentum in the Americantaurants that contribute their organic waste. economy.How exactly do you turn food scraps into The restaurants participating in the food scrap collection program did haveelectricity? East Bay starts by breaking the to put some extra time into training employees to keep contaminants like plastic and otherwaste down with bacteria in a gigantic un- foreign object out of the bin destined to be converted into electricity. Despite the extra train-derground tank. This process gives off meth- ing, the savings in reduced garbage production was enough to help some restaurants saveane, which is then burned to heat water and money, since the scraps are collected for free.create steam, which drives a turbine thatcreates electricity. This is the same process Only a tiny fraction of the food waste produced in the Bay Area goes to the organic genera-used by most coal fired power plants, except tor run by the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The room for growth is enormous, and if Santhe fuel in this case is sustainable. Francisco could collect almost all of the 1,800 tons of waste produced every day by area businesses, that would be enough electricity to power 25,000 homes. That’s a serious contri-Currently, food scraps make up a small por- bution San Francisco restaurants can make to the local power grid.tion of the organic waste that is processed atthe East Bay facility. The majority comes from For more information about composting in your area. Visit www.epa.gov - Search: food waste WATER Restaurants use a lot of water. Between cooking, washing dishes, cleaning up, and serv- ing guests, your water bill takes a good chunk out of your monthly budget on a consistent basis. Water conservation is also a big concern of a majority of your customers, especially SAVING if you operate in dry western states like California, Arizona, or Colorado. Effective water conservation in your restaurant is a lot easier than you might think. It’s also a pretty easy way to gain serious street credit with your customers while also adding TIPS green to your bottom line. The nice thing about water conservation is that it takes mini- mal investment to realize some pretty serious savings.1 2 3 4 5SERVE DRINKING WATER FIX LEAKY FAUCETS CHANGE TO LOW FLOW WASH FULL RACKS ONLY TRAIN EMPLOYEES.ON DEMAND ONLY PRE-RINSE SPRAY VALVES That little dribble coming The danger is in assuming In the end, all the bestDon’t just assume your out of the faucets in your A low flow spray valve your kitchen staff is fol- water-saving equipmentguests want water! If you kitchen probably doesn’t can slash your water us- lowing this rule religiously, in the world doesn’t dodon’t serve water auto- seem like a big deal, age at one of its most because chances are you a bit of good if yourmatically, train your wait especially since you’re wasteful points. The best they’re not. Employ a staff doesn’t take conser-staff to let customers probably working hell- part is, newer low flow constant education and vation seriously. Make itknow they can have wa- ish hours as it is. But looks spray valves are just as ef- enforcement program to an ongoing issue in staffter free of charge at any can fool you. That dribble fective at cleaning dishes make sure only full racks meetings and duringtime (after they get the can add up to thousands but they use water at half get put through your employee training. Moredrink order of course!). of gallons of water each the rate. Get some real commercial dishwasher. than likely, you will findAnd if you’re serving wa- month, and if it’s the hot bang for your buck and Even conserving a small enthusiasm and a will-ter, try to use a filtered side of the faucet that’s still clean dishes effec- amount of dishwasher ingness to participate inglass filler to guarantee leaking, that’s hundreds tively. water translates into big your water conservationtaste and water quality. of dollars in energy bills savings for you because programs. Getting good going down the drain as that hot water is twice as buy-in from your staff will well. expensive after you pay make the job of polic- to heat it up. ing water conservation much, much easier.
How To Get LEED Certified LEED & Why You ShouldEvery year, your restaurant’s green credibility to back up their claims. In the food serviceon the street gets more important. According industry, national chains like Chipotle haveto the National Restaurant Association (NRA), built flagship locations to showcase their ef-it’s one of the hottest trends of 2010. Compa- forts and build green credibility.nies across the board, in and out of the food One of the H One of the most respected programs outservice industry, have scrambled in recentyears to label their brands as green, with vary- there is run by the Green Building Certifica- tion Institute (GBCI) and is a well recognized OTTESTing degrees of success. name among consumers: LEED. The Leader- Trends of 20Some companies have taken advantage ofthe green mood consumers are in by “green- ship in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) certifi- cation process can be long and arduous, 10washing” their business – trumping up a bunch but it also carries an official respect that willof nominally “green” practices and selling it completely wipe out any lingering customerto customers as a genuine commitment to suspicions about the true purpose of your in-sustainability. The problem with greenwashing tentions.is that as consumers place more importance What is LEED and how do you get certified?on sustainability, they’re also becoming more Good question. The name of the game is tosavvy about how effective the strategies com- earn points when you build or remodel. Outpanies tell them about really are. of a possible 110 points, there are 5 cate-This has led to a growing effort by compa- gories and 2 bonus categories in whichnies that are genuine about their sustainabil- you can earn points for sustainableity commitment to seek official credentials building and design practices:SUSTAINABLE SITES.If you’re building a new location, you can earn points by selecting a sitebased upon sensitivity to several environmental factors including plants,wildlife, water, and air quality. (21 points)WATER EFFICIENCY.Technology and strategies that cut your restaurant’s water use by 20%over the baseline amount earn you points. Earn even more points forcutting water use even further. (11 points)ENERGY AND ATMOSPHERE.Maximizing your restaurant’s energy efficiency, managing ozone-deplet-ing CFCs (usually found in refrigerants), and utilizing renewable energyare the three main areas that will earn you points in this category. (37points)MATERIALS AND RESOURCES.Selecting sustainable resources for your building or remodel project(i.e. no redwood countertops) and developing an effective wastemanagement strategy earn you points in this category. (14 points)INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY.Using sensors and controls to manage indoor temperature, humidity,and ventilation earn you points in this category. (17 points)BONUS POINTS.These can be earned if you’re building or remodeling in a region that hasbeen deemed a priority by the GBCI, or if your project shows exceptionalinnovation and leadership in design. (10 points)40 POINTS ARE REQUIRED FOR LEED CERTIFICATIONThere are also three levels beyond a basic certification: For More Info VisitPlatinum (80+)Gold (60+) www.usgbc.org/LEEDSilver (50+)Obviously, LEED certification isn’t for everyone. That’s why it’s called a Leadership program.But for those brave enough to try for certification, the payoff can be incalculable.
The Conflict Between Local Food And Local GovernmentAs you have probably heard, more and more and as consumers demand locally sourced,restaurants are sourcing their food locally. organically grown produce, a conflict hasRestaurants in urban areas are even turning arisen between antiquated zoning laws andvacant lots, empty roofs, and bare terraces the realities of the modern landscape. Theinto herb and vegetable gardens, yielding result is a growing need for more progressivefresh produce for their customers. The trend municipal laws that allow both citizens andhas taken off quickly, and, at least in Culver local businesses to maximize land use in theirCity, CA, the municipal government is grap- communities. Such progressive thinking notpling with how to regulate urban gardens. only addresses the growing desire for locally sourced foods but improves the municipalThe problem started when the owner of the scenery and helps the local economy.Bluebird Café in downtown Culver City ap-proached the owner of a long-vacant strip Concerns over water use, toxins and pollut-of land near the restaurant that was formerly ants in urban soil, and the taxation of soldpart of a railroad spur. The restaurateur soon produce are all things that can be readilyconvinced the developer to let him use the addressed by revised zoning laws. It’s merelyland to grow crops that would supply fresh a matter of pushing those changes throughproduce for the restaurant, including 535 to- the bureaucracy of local government.mato plants and 40 fruit trees. For the Bluebird Café, updated zoning or-Everything was going fine until municipal dinances might come too late. All the hardofficials caught wind of the operation and work the restaurant’s owners put into their ur-pointed out that city zoning laws prohibited ban garden hasn’t altered the city council’sthe pair from selling any of the produce that concerns over toxic soil, taxation, and water.came out of their impromptu garden. Any- Fortunately, the fate of the Bluebird isn’t slow-thing used for personal consumption was ing down other restaurants from developingfine, but for sale was illegal. urban gardens of their own, and many haveAs cities and suburbs have grown bigger they been quite successful in their endeavors. have covered more and more farmland, Is Your Commercial Dishwasher Energy Efficient? Commercial dishwashers are energy hogs, Booster heaters, internal tank heaters, and commercial water pure and simple. There’s no way to get around heaters can all be adjusted to optimize water temperature and it, and the best you can do is try to mitigate minimize waste. It’s important to continue checking water tem- the costs associated with dishwashing by em- perature as well because over time, use and wear may change ploying a few effective strategies. the water temp in the dishwasher, requiring further adjustments. WASH FULL RACKS ONLY. TURN OFF BOOSTER AND TANK HEATERS. It’s so obvious it almost seems dumb to say, but train The booster heater and the internal tank heater on the dishwashing your kitchen staff to never, ever, run anything less than a unit should be turned off at the end of the night. Otherwise, they will full rack through the dishwasher. The temptation to run the continue to heat water needlessly while you are shut down, wasting dishwasher half full is much greater than you might realize, a ton of energy in the process. and it’s a colossal waste of energy. CHECK WATER PRESSURE.CHECK WATER TEMPERATURE. Many larger dish machines have a pressure gauge that indicatesUse a dishwasher thermometer to check the temperature of the wa- the water pressure in the unit. More than 25 Pounds per Square Inch ter during the rinse cycle on a regular basis. This is especially impor- (PSI) could mean you are using more water than necessary, as most tant for high temp dishwashers, as you want to ensure you are hitting dish machines require only 20 PSI. Check with the unit’s manufacturer180 degrees Fahrenheit on every cycle. However, a temp check will to see what the optimal PSI is for that machine and to learn how toalso help kitchens with a low temp dishwasher because often the adjust the PSI.unit runs water that is too hot, and the water temp can be turneddown to save energy.
Is Your Kitchen Ventilation Sucking Up Money? The exhaust system in your kitchen is one of those essential piec- es of equipment you must have in order to operate. And if yourhood is like the ones in most restaurants, it has two settings: “on” and“off.” When your line is operating at full tilt during the dinner rush,the “on” setting is probably perfect, quickly sending heat and fumesstraight from your cooking equipment outside. But what about after-noons or during light lunches? You probably still have the ventilationon but your equipment is not creating nearly as much exhaust.You know how much energy that hood exhaust in your kitchen is us-ing. Here’s a few tips on making sure it’s running as efficiently as possible:Get the system rebalanced. Your exhaust system needs someregular maintenance to run at optimal levels. If too much smoke isbuilding up in your kitchen, or if the system seems like it’s on overdriveall the time, a rebalancing by a trained technician is in order. A rebal-ance ensures the system is keeping the kitchen safe but not suckingup too much energy by working too hard.Maximize suction. If you’re paying to run your kitchen ventila-tion system, it might as well be pulling as much of the stuff you don’twant in your kitchen as possible. To maximize smoke and heat cap-ture, make sure your cooking equipment is pushed all the way upagainst the wall underneath the hood. This prevents clean air fromgetting sucked up from behind the equipment and puts the maxi-mum amount of hood over your line. And if your hood doesn’t haveside panels, you can install them easily and cheaply. Side panels helptrap smoke and fumes, making the exhaust system more efficient.Install a demand ventilation control. If you really want to savesome money on kitchen ventilation then a demand control is for you.It senses the cooking volume in your kitchen and adjusts fan speedaccordingly. A ventilation control can reduce kitchen exhaust ener- If you happen to be designing a new kitchen, yougy usage by 30% - 50% and can be either ordered with a new exhaust should account for a few factors in order tosystem or installed on an older unit. maximize ventilation efficiency:Clean and maintain hood filters. The hood filters are the metal Group heavy cooking equipment together. Whatever you’re goingsquares in the exhaust opening of your ventilation system that catch to be cooking with the most should all be right next to each otherthe grease in air as it gets sucked out. The hood filter underneath the hood. If you have aplays an important role, since grease buildup can single heavy cooking appliance, likebecome a dangerous fire risk. As time goes on hood a charbroiler, and other lighter cook-filters become saturated with grease and should be ing equipment, it’s a good idea tocleaned. The dirtier the filter, the harder your exhaust separate the heavy piece from thehas to work to suck air through them. Also make lighter pieces and give it a dedicat-sure they are installed correctly (with the baffles, or ed high volume exhaust. This allowsridges, in the vertical position) and that there are no you to run the lighter equipment un-gaps between them. Replace damaged filters immediately. der a hood that doesn’t have to be on full blast all the time. Create a big overhang. While 4 feet is the industry standard, 5 or 6 feet of hood will capture more smoke and allow you to run your ex- haust system more efficiently. Making the kitchen ventilation system energy efficient not only saves you money, it ensures that the exhaust is capturing the maximum amount of smoke and fumes and getting them out of your kitchen.
REDUCE WASTE WITH A GARBAGE DISPOSALEvery year, 19 million tons of food waste ends up in An investment today in a commercial garbage disposal will pay dividends for your business down the road. Over the life of the dis-America’s landfills. Not only does that waste have to be hauled posal you’re going to save on trash removal costs. More important-and stored, it also takes up rapidly diminishing space in city dumps. ly, you’ll reduce pressure on landfills, slow greenhouse gas emissions,Even worse, when food waste breaks down it releases greenhouse and maybe even help make some recycled fertilizer. That’s a win-gases, especially methane, which is much more harmful than carbon win for any restaurant.dioxide.Disposing of food waste is a daily reality for all restaurants. The costsassociated with handling food waste have always presented a prob-lem for food service businesses – from the labor to collect and haulwaste to purchasing storage materials like trash cans and bags. Addthat monthly bill for the garbage truck and you’ve got some prettysignificant costs associated with every plate you scrape into the trash.An in-sink waste disposal is a great alternative. A disposal breaks foodwaste down quickly and conveniently so that it can be processedby a wastewater treatment facility. The whole process is much fasterand more efficient than sending food waste to the landfill. Even bet-ter, more and more wastewater plants are recycling broken downfood waste and using it as fertilizer and even to produce electricity.