GCRC salutes inaugural class of Green Restaurants

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GCRC salutes inaugural class of Green Restaurants

Last fall, the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op announced the Guaranteed Green program, which helps Chicago-area diners identify and support local restaurants what have taken significant, verifiable steps toward protecting the environment.

Today, GCRC announced the first wave of restaurants that successfully earned Guaranteed Green status. All in all, a very successful event, with good turnout from media and participating chefs including Helen Cameron from Uncommon Ground, Chris Koetke from Kendall College, Rick Bayless from, well, from everywhere; GCRC founder Dan Rosenthal and a bunch of others.

Here’s edited version of press conference, with full press release to follow….

(June 22, 2010 – Chicago) The Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op (www.buygreenchicago.org) today announced the first wave of success for Guaranteed Green, a new program that helps Chicago-area diners identify and support local restaurants that have taken significant, verifiable steps toward protecting the environment.

“Six months ago we challenged the Chicago restaurant community to make bold changes to help protect the environment, and it responded in force.” said Dan Rosenthal, co-founder, Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op. “Today we are proud to announce the inaugural class of Guaranteed Green, 20 restaurants that challenged industry assumptions, invested time and money, and employed old fashioned ingenuity to become more environmentally responsible.”

The Guaranteed Green program launched last fall when some of Chicago’s finest restaurants committed to pursuing sustainability in a comprehensive manner by going through a rigorous certification process. Twenty of these restaurants have now successfully followed through on this commitment, and several more continue to work through the process. With the growing success of the program, Chicago is quickly becoming a national leader for sustainability in the restaurant industry.

Guaranteed Green is available to any licensed foodservice establishment that becomes certified by either the Green Restaurant Association (www.dinegreen.com) or Green Seal (www.greenseal.org), two independent, national not-for-profits that have created comprehensive environmental standards for restaurants.

Rick Bayless, lifelong champion of the environment and chef/owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, both of which are now Guaranteed Green, and the new, L.E.E.D. certified XOCO, applauds the certification program:

“It’s really hard as a chef to know exactly what choices to make. When the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op was founded with Dan’s vision, it made my life a lot easier. There was focus on what we need to do,” said Bayless.

“This is the next right move for us and as a city of great restaurants. You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing about the great restaurants of Chicago. I want people to think about these restaurants not just in terms of food quality and uniqueness but in terms of the way we relate to the environment. And I feel we’re making steps in that direction.”

Guaranteed Green Chicago restaurants now have an emblem placed in their front window featuring the sprouting green fork, which is the signal to Chicago diners that the restaurant they have chosen is truly “green.”

In addition to being awarded the Guaranteed Green window emblem, restaurants which have achieved their certification are also now recognized in numerous print media and on multiple websites, including city and state tourism sites. Chicago Magazine, ExploreChicago.org, ChooseChicago.com, and several other dining guides now include the fork and leaf icon as part of their regular restaurant listings.

In order to earn certification in either program, a restaurant must meet environmental standards in the areas of sustainable purchasing for food, cleaning products, food serviceware and furnishings, as well as management of energy, water, and waste. To prove that they have met the standards for each of these categories, restaurants must submit extensive documentation to their certifier.

Uncommon Ground, Helen and Michael Cameron’s restaurant in Edgewater, added to its already impressive list of accomplishments by achieving 3-Star Certification® through the Green Restaurant Association. Even though the Camerons’ restaurant was already recognized as having the nation’s first certified organic rooftop farm, they put Uncommon Ground through the GRA’s certification program to continue to push the environmental envelope, and demonstrate to their guests that they are committed to a comprehensive approach to sustainability.

“It’s one thing to say you are green, but it’s quite another to prove it through a third party certification such as the Green Restaurant Association,” says Ms. Cameron. “Their standards are rigorous and it was a great learning experience to provide all of our documentation. Now I am motivated to work with the GRA to continue improving upon eco-friendly (and money-saving) business operations, and to educate our staff and our customers about what we are doing.”

A complete list of Guaranteed Green restaurants follows.

ABOUT US
The Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op is committed to providing professional procurement services in support of increasing the type and volume of sustainable products and services purchased by restaurants and other businesses in the Chicago area.

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GOING FOR THE “GREEN”
Chicago restaurants which have achieved “Guaranteed Green” status

Avec
Big Jones
Blackbird
Bleeding Heart Bakery
Blind Faith Café
Dining Room at Kendall College
Frontera Grill
Keefer’s Restaurant
Poag Mahone’s
Roti Mediterranean Grill
Simone’s Bar
Sopraffina Marketcaffé (5)
Topolobampo
Trattoria No. 10
Uncommon Ground (2)