While restaurants—especially those in New York City—may not be the most environmentally friendly entity, Manhattan’s neighborhood Nomad champions sustainable ways of serving and encourages others to join in.
“The restaurant industry is a major contributor to air, water, and land pollution. It is in the interest of the industry and our community that we come together to improve our environmental impact and set an example for other restaurants and communities to follow,” John Meadow, whose LDV Hospitality oversees some of New York’s finest restaurants like Scarpetta, near Madison Square Park in the neighborhood shared with Travel + Leisure.
More on this NYC Neighborhood’s efforts to make the dining scene greener
Although he’s always been sustainably conscious, it wasn’t until Meadow caught fire with the efforts of the Green Restaurant Association, an organization with the unique mission of helping the restaurant industry become environmentally sustainable, that he decided to jump into action in his own backyard.
“The Nomad/Flatiron neighborhood has some of the city’s most popular restaurants and chefs,” said Meadows. “As leaders in the industry, they are well positioned to make a commitment and encourage others to do the same.”
In 2019, Michael Ochman, CEO and Founder of the Green Restaurant Association, was working on finding the next great destination for green dining. After helping Asheville, NC, become the number one and currently the only destination for green eating in the United States, I knew it was time for something bigger. So, he set his sights on the Flatiron/NoMad area, an upscale neighborhood, surrounding the iconic Flatiron Building, with frequent foot traffic and a variety of restaurants. (AKA, the perfect place to show that any restaurant can become more sustainable.)
But, like most things that tried to take off at the turn of the decade, the pandemic spoiled that mission. However, in 2021, Meadow heard about Ochman’s efforts across the Madison Square Park Preserve, where he sits on the board, and made it his duty to support the cause, giving it a burgeoning voice in the hospitality industry.
To make as big an impact on the industry as possible, the Green Restaurant Association is now working with Madison Square Park Conservancy, Flatiron/Nomad Partnership, and Meadows itself via LDV Hospitality to spread the word and showcase the entire hospitality industry. Businesses—from the smallest food truck to the largest global enterprise—can make meaningful changes to reduce their carbon footprint.
Being an eco-friendly food destination doesn’t just speak in cliches. Instead, it’s a rigorous process, but one that’s not impossible to achieve, according to Ochman.
As he explained to T+L, the Green Restaurant Association’s role is to help restaurants make necessary environmental changes, verify those changes, and then certify restaurants as official green restaurants through their eight certification standards, which they’ve honed. the past three decades. Once a restaurant becomes a Level I, II, III, or four-star certified green restaurant, it can communicate this on its website, menu, facade, staff uniforms, and more.
“Almost all restaurants can reach Level One Certified Green Restaurant; and what we found is that with some additional small changes, we can help Level One Certified Green Restaurants move toward three-star certified green restaurants over time,” Ochman said.
With the Flatiron/NoMad project, the team is trying to get 20 locations to become certified green restaurants. Already, several properties including Scarpetta have signed up along with Barcade, Honeybrains, Blackbarn, Resdora Osteria Emiliana, and Hawksmoor, and the groups hope to achieve their goal by the end of fall to officially declare the Flatiron/NoMad neighborhood a green food destination, second only to Asheville. .
On their way to certification are American Cut, Bombay Sandwich Co, and Tarallucci e Vino.
“Becoming a green-certified restaurant required making some relatively simple changes like adding more vegetarian and vegan menu options, buying local food, eco-friendly transport containers, and establishing standard operating procedures for composting and recycling,” Meadow said of Scarpetta’s certification journey. “Not only has this helped us reduce waste and reduce our carbon footprint, but it has allowed our guests to enjoy a more sustainable experience.”
Ochman noted that while the industry has improved quite a bit over the decades with more reliable food certifications, making it easier to find sustainable fish, meat and produce, there are still ways to go for other sustainable efforts in the use of energy, water and restaurant waste.
“It is important that we engage with all of these groups to make this industry environmentally sustainable,” said Ochman. The main thing missing is a strong sense of urgency of how important it is to address these issues now. The exciting news is that we don’t need to wait for some future technology. We’re helping restaurants now.”
As for Meadow, it’s all about making the restaurant industry’s sustainability message, well, bite-sized, so everyone can taste it.
“I think the biggest challenge is the lack of awareness about this issue and commitment among restaurants to take action,” he said. Many people think sustainability and environmental issues are too big for them, personally, to make an impact, so they just do nothing. What we hope to educate the industry about is that taking small steps is beneficial, and more restaurants taking small steps is what we need to make a big difference.”
Learn more about NoMad’s Green Dining Destination efforts, and follow it to see if it’s hitting its 20-restaurant goal here.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleertain.com
Main and main image credit: Noam Galai/Getty Contributor
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