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ECCO certified as first Green Foodservice restaurant in Georgia
Today's Restaurant Georgia Edition
Sunday, 07 March 2010 22:50

Fifth Group Restaurants in Atlanta paves the way for
an environmentally responsible restaurant industry

Ecco_Green_GA_1Atlanta, GA - The Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) has just announced that Ecco - www.ecco-atlanta.com, Fifth Group Restaurants, a popular eatery in Midtown Atlanta, has become the first restaurant in the state of Georgia to receive the Green Foodservice Certification. As a result, Ecco and GFA are leading the way for greening the restaurant industry nationwide, uniting several foodservice organizations in the fight to incorporate environmental conservation practices into the daily operations of dining establishments. Ecco is located at 40 7th Street at the corner of Cypress Street.

Fifth Group Restaurants Partner Steve Simon helped to develop this program and now sits on the Green Foodservice Alliance Executive Committee. Simon strategized on the functionality of the certification requirements, providing input about what would be operationally reasonable and what would be discouraging for restaurateurs.

“It’s kind of like the first time you recycle at home; it’s not hard, you just have to retrain your habits,” says Simon of complying with certification standards. “What it comes down to is a choice, and how good you want to be at it,” he adds.

The Green Foodservice Certification program is brand new and will evolve to become more stringent each year for the next few years. While there are many more things that Ecco and other restaurants can do to be greener and more environmentally conscious, this is the beginning of an effort to drive the hospitality industry in Atlanta and the state of Georgia to greener practices. The 2009 certification requires that the restaurant adhere to the following practices:

  • Recycle common recyclable goods such as aluminum, cardboard, plastic, glass and paper. The restaurant must report tonnage of recycled products hauled into recycling company on a monthly basis to the GRA.
  • Spent grease must be used for the local production of biofuel.
  • A written plan must be provided for donation of non-sellable but edible food to a local food bank, other charitable organization or some consumable source.
  • A written plan must be provided for energy conservation (gas, electricity, water).

“Now that the recycling industry is generating profit, it’s as or more cost effective than just sending everything to the landfill,” says Simon. “These practices are smart economically and environmentally, and you know you’re doing the right thing.”

While these practices haven’t been a focal point in the past from an operational standpoint, Ecco was able to divert 65% of its waste immediately and reached 75% with more focus. Simon found the kitchen and dish room to be the most challenging areas of the restaurant due to lack of extra space, while the bar area proved to be more conducive to recycling.

As for energy conservation, Ecco’s energy consumption is monitored on a monthly basis, and the results are used to put operational procedures into effect in order for the restaurant to use less energy. Ecco has been adhering to these practices and the other certification stipulations for six months now, and Fifth Group is currently in the process of rolling out recycling procedures at the company’s catering arm, Bold American and all of their other establishments including South City Kitchen, El Taco and La Tavola Trattoria, which is already part of the nation’s first “Carbon Neutral Zone.”

The Green Foodservice Alliance is a collaboration of the Georgia Restaurant Association, American Culinary Federation - Atlanta Chapter, Georgia Organics and Georgia Grown program at the Department of Agriculture.

The organization’s mission is to create and implement Sustainable Best Practices in the foodservice industry. GRA’s task forces are committed to action and making a difference by providing innovative solutions for sustainability and optimizing new technologies and energy conservation practices.

Fifth Group Restaurants is the privately owned company that operates Atlanta restaurants South City Kitchen® Midtown, South City Kitchen Vinings, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco and The Original El Taco, as well as Bold American®, a catering and events company with onsite services at Studio 887 and the Event Gallery at the King Plow Arts Center and offsite at private homes, offices and Atlanta's premier venues.