Happy Earth Day!

In recognition of Earth Day 2011, we wanted to share some information about our ongoing sustainability initiatives. We don’t pat ourselves on the back too often, but we believe you, our guests, may be interested.

Since starting Fifth Group Restaurants, we have always strived to use local farmers and food purveyors and offer organic or naturally raised products whenever possible—it’s simply the best quality product. But, over the last year, we have made additional and deliberate strides to do more, specifically related to recycling, composting all food residuals, reducing energy consumption and converting our used cooking oil into bio fuel.

We are very proud of the fact that we recycle and composte nearly every ounce of product that comes through our doors, resulting in more than 500,000 lbs. of food residuals alone being diverted from landfills annually!

Ecco is the first restaurant in the state of Georgia to have no dumpster—we recycle or compost everything and bring it back to Ecco for use in our self-planted roof-top garden. These delicious, homegrown vegetables and herbs will make it directly to you through dishes on Ecco’s menu, completely closing the loop. In fact, we were recently featured on CNN discussing this very topic.

his amazing accomplishment has since been implemented in nearly all our restaurants—all of which now recycle or compost at least 65% of all waste.

La Tavola is part of the first Carbon Neutral Zone created in the United States. Along with 17 other businesses in this Atlanta neighborhood, La Tavola worked with Verus Carbon Neutral to establish a groundbreaking retail eco-zone known as The Corner-Virginia-Highland, which is located at the corner of North Highland and Virginia Avenues. By purchasing carbon offsets, this entire retail community effectively offset its residual greenhouse gas emissions using an innovative collective approach that will set the standard for American companies looking to adopt sustainable business practices and reduce their carbon footprints.

Additional unique environmental conservation efforts include recycling our grease to biofuel; replacing half of our water heaters with on-demand systems; replacing half of our dish machines with low-use, water efficient machines; and using all green US EPA DfE certified dish machine detergent and rinse chemicals.

Fifth Group Restaurants Co-Founder Steve Simon has played a major part in making the Atlanta restaurant group an industry leader in sustainable practices.  Simon is an active member of the Green Foodservice Alliance Advisory Council and the Executive Committee.  He also participated as a panelist for the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) National Recycling & Zero Waste Conference in October of 2009.  Simon also lead the charge on Atlanta’s fourth Zero Waste Zone (ZWZ), in Midtown, and is working to recruit other restaurants to participate and showing them how to implement this process.  The ZWZ is a project developed by the Green Foodservice Alliance in partnership with the Sustainability Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Division.  One of the keys to ZWZ success is the collaborative efforts of government, industry trade associations, non-profits, private businesses and foodservice operators like us.  As a result, Ecco serves as the Zone Champion for Midtown.

Not only are we actively making these sustainable changes, we are also encouraging others in the industry to do the same. For example we insist on having the ability to compost and recycle when negotiating leases for any new restaurants and are helping fellow restaurateurs learn how to make their own restaurants more sustainable.

As you can read, we are very excited about these initiatives and hope that you are, too. Thank you for your interest in our efforts—we encourage you to forward this information to others you think may find it of interest. You have many choices for dining and entertaining in Atlanta—we hope this gives you another reason to consider doing so with us. Happy Earth Day!

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About Fifth Group Restaurants

Fifth Group Restaurants owns and operates Atlanta favorites, South City Kitchen Midtown, South City Kitchen Vinings, La Tavola, Ecco, El Taco, Alma Cocina, Lure and Bold American Events.
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