The Arlington Green Games staff recently spent time with Extra Virgin Modern Italian Cuisine’s Executive Chef Scott Jenkins for some insights about the restaurants sustainability practices. Extra Virgin is currently competing in the Arlington Green Games program for restaurants and looking to expand the commitments and efforts already underway to reduce their environmental impact.
- What initiatives is Extra Virgin taking to make the restaurant more sustainable through energy and water conservation?
When it comes to energy use, Extra Virgin is aware of the savings potential. Timers, daylighting, and turning off lights when not in use are a few strategies the restaurant employs to keep usage down. To watch water use, Extra Virgin switched to a cold water dishwashing machine (saving about $250/month) and uses buckets of water for cleaning rather than running water. Energy-efficient light bulbs throughout the restaurant and low-flow bathroom fixtures are next on the list.
- What is Extra Virgin’s greatest energy-saving success and what challenges did staff face when implementing it?
The dishwasher change-out is Extra Virgin’s greatest success, and that happened without much difficulty. Buying local food is another great win for the restaurant too. Always buying local can be a challenge though as the quality of very specific products varies depending on season. To face this, Extra Virgin is looking to gather a group of chefs in the Village to support a CSA farm (community-support agriculture) that has a hoop-house to grow these specific products.
- How is Extra Virgin engaging customers and staff in actions being taken to save energy and be greener?
Extra Virgin offers local, vegan, gluten-free, and organic options to customers. The chefs, vendors, and staff often communicate what local products have been purchased recently and verbally explain specials that highlight local products like free-range beef or Virginia wine; personal anecdotes are also shared. Plus, all Extra Virgin employees are trained on how to fix a leaky faucet!
- Did you know that consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on the sustainability of businesses? How is Extra Virgin marketing its achievements to attract customers?
This fact has not gone unnoticed by Extra Virgin, most notably in requests for Virginia wine. Facebook and the restaurant website are used to promote events such as “all local food dinners” where everything served is grown/produced in a 150 mile radius.
- What efforts is Extra Virgin making to “think globally, act locally”?
Extra Virgin serves local produce, meat, wine, beer, and coffee. The restaurant also cross-promotes with two local shops, Ah Love Oil and Cheesestique (Extra Virgin uses the olive oil and cheese from these shops and points this out to their customers with specials).
- How does Extra Virgin consider the environment when making purchasing decisions or selling products?
Extra Virgin has implemented the following additional strategies in environmentally-minded purchasing:
- Uses Congressional Seafood to obtain locally sustainable fish
- Uses a brick oven for pizzas and fuels it with reclaimed white oak (dead/fallen) from a local farmer
- Uses white paper recycled to-go bags instead of plastic
- Is Extra Virgin using innovative efforts that set the restaurant apart from others and show its dedication to protecting the environment?
In addition to the “all local dinner” events, Extra Virgin maintains a practice of low food waste (such as providing leftover food to employees) and recycles oil. The restaurant is pursuing composting and plans to engage other restaurants in Shirlington for this endeavor.
More interviews to come…come back and read on! Visit www.arlingtongreengames.com to learn more about how you might be able to play!