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Salads aren't the only things green in these restaurants

New program eliminates the hassle of eateries being certified as environmentally friendly.

November 02, 2011|By Mona Shadia
  • Executive Chef Matthew Perez stands next to the Dinner Duo menu at Duke's restaurant in Huntington Beach.
Executive Chef Matthew Perez stands next to the Dinner… (STEVEN GEORGES,…)

Jesse Baker, founder of Ecofficiency, a nonprofit that encourages responsible lifestyle, consumption and choices, says running a restaurant with the environment and community in mind shouldn't be costly or difficult.

But the movement toward a green lifestyle has taken on a life of its own, with organizations that charge thousands of dollars to certify restaurants, buildings or companies, and sometimes their standards aren't flexible enough to fit each business.

To simplify, Baker developed the Positive Plate, a comprehensive, local sustainable restaurant certification program that goes beyond just where the food is coming from.

The program is flexible enough to fit each restaurant's volume and needs, he said.

"We look at everything in restaurants, from their food to furniture," Baker said. "We look at how to make their energy and water use much more efficient, how to reduce waste and increase recycling, and how they can positively bring in their employees into the mix, treating them well, training them well and finding ways to interact with their community."

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The Costa Mesa-based Positive Plate encompasses five categories that each restaurant must comply with to be certified: product sourcing, energy and water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, employee development, and community engagement.

The process is simple, Baker said.

Consultants visit the restaurant and look at its style, the menu it serves, the energy it uses and whether it saves money and power. The fee is $100 a month.

Duke's in Huntington Beach is one of eight restaurants signed up for the Positive Plate certification.

The restaurant's executive chef and partner, Matthew Perez, said saving energy is simple. For example, the restaurant was able to save 80,000 gallons of water a year by asking customers if they would like water instead of just serving it at each table.

The restaurant also uses local seafood, which reduces shipment costs, and cardboard boxes, which are recyclable.

"It doesn't need to be more expensive or cost more to be responsible," said Perez, who is also the Positive Plate's development partner. "In some cases, even when it does cost a little bit more, those are good things, and if you share that in your marketing material, people appreciate it and come to your restaurant because they know you're being responsible in your day-to-day business practice."

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