I grew up working in the hospitality/restaurant industry. While I burned out on working the day to day restaurant grind 20+ years ago, the industry and my love of food has carried over into my current passion for the political food system as a whole. So when I decided to research one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, IL to see how they were doing with their sustainability efforts I was thrilled with what I found.
Being a Sustainable Restaurant
Uncommon Ground was the first restaurant in the nation to have a certified organic rooftop garden. Because the neighbors in their community literally helped them to carry four tons of soil up the stairs to create the rooftop garden, they keep the area accessible to the neighborhood for viewing and educational purposes. The restaurant is continually recognized for their sustainable efforts which in turn is providing them with the designation of being the leaders in their chosen field. They also offer an internship program for aspiring restauranteurs that dream of one day opening their own sustainable operation.
The Green Restaurant Association(GRA) has been the third party organization to set the ‘sustainable standard’ for the restaurant industry. According to their company website their vision is to, ‘Create an environmentally sustainable restaurant industry.’ The GRA recognized Uncommon Ground as the World’s Greenest Restaurant just last year. This designation did not come easy. It took over four years for them to reach this achievement. Most restaurants become certified by achieving 100 points through their systemized process. Uncommon Ground first received 228 points when they applied and worked their way up to earning 447 green points to achieve the highest standard to date.
The bar has been set high by this two restaurant operation based out of Chicago. And the recognition they are receiving is showing others it can be done. If I were to ever have a change of heart and decide to open my own restaurant, Uncommon Grounds is the type of restaurant I would emulate. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?