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Sustainable Restaurant Ideas in Texas

Restaurants were able to sell their services with great menus, good food, and superb service. However, nowadays, concern about damaged ecosystems, global warming, etc., filters through to customers’ consciousness. Therefore, dining at a restaurant that takes a stand for sustainability gives the customer a feeling that he contributes to sustainability and will inspire the client to adopt sustainability as a lifestyle, even at home. We will therefore elaborate on ways to make your restaurant sustainable in Texas

The sustainability of a restaurant will influence people’s choice about where they will choose to eat out. Therefore, it is evident that when they have to choose between two eateries, they will instead go for the sustainable one where they will have a good meal and contribute to saving Texas and, eventually, the planet.

Making the switch to a sustainable restaurant makes obvious business sense, as discussed by Quest in a white paper while you are doing your part in saving the planet. In addition, customers are willing to pay more for sustainable food and services because they feel that they are responsible citizens of the world and appreciate restaurants contributing to sustainability.

With this article, we want to introduce ways to contribute to more sustainability in your restaurant while it will increase turnover and profit. Improving your restaurants’ sustainability can range from ideas on quick and simple changes to capital investments.

Start With Small Wins improving Restaurant Sustainability

Some minor changes in your restaurant can get the ball rolling in becoming more sustainable.

  • Replace paper napkins with linen napkins. Although this might increase your laundry load, it is a cheaper option and will prevent a lot of paper napkins from ending up in the landfill if not recycled. 
  • Replace plastic straws and cups with biodegradable straws and cups. Plastic straws might be tiny but take up a lot of space in landfills. Using biodegradable straws and cups can help a lot in saving Texas.
  • Change non-recyclable packaging for recyclable or reusable packaging. For example, ditching plastic cling film or any polystyrene boxes and plastic that is only used once in exchange for reusable containers and offering customers a money-back option will be more eco-friendly.
  • Source food from local producers in reusable packaging. Sourcing food locally will decrease the carbon footprint of the food while fresher food that is more nutritious can be served to clients. You will also contribute to sustainable food production in the community, forming relationships for composting, recycling, etc.
  • Cut down on water usage and encourage clients to help. Purifying water contributes extensively to our carbon footprint, and cutting down on water usage will help Texas decrease our carbon footprint. Place signs regarding water saving at each water outlet and install motion sensor taps to eliminate running taps,
  • Cut down on energy usage. Switch of any appliance or light that is not actively in use or is not needed. Training your staff regarding energy saving might help you to lower energy bills and ensure a cleaner environment. You can also include an energy management system to identify waste areas and even employ an eco-friendlier energy supplier.
  • Effectively maintain and clean equipment. Equipment that is clean and adequately maintained works at its utmost efficiency level and will use minimum energy.
  • Give customers the option to donate to a tree-planting foundation. By just including a space on bills for such a donation, you can help customers donate to urban forestation and express your sincerity to clients concerning your dedication to making a difference to sustainability in Texas. 

1. Start Producing Some Food Locally to Boost Sustainability of the Restaurant

By doing this, you will advertise your sustainability drive to customers while you can use the produce from your garden in dishes and cut on buying the products. In addition, the garden can be beneficial to the aesthetic value of your restaurant that will intrigue clients and contribute to a relaxed environment.

You can start a small herb garden or even produce the fresh vegetables used in most dishes if space is available. If no piece of earth is open, you can even go for soilless farming and include vertical farming practices, which will do wonders for your restaurant’s decor. 

If this sounds like it will take up too much of your time, subcontracting a young person to do it can benefit both parties. In time he might expand it to something much bigger and can be of immense value to your restaurant.

Food scraps that can’t be used in any way to feed people can even be composted on-site to supply nutritious compost for your locally planted food.

2. Add More Vegetarian and Vegan Options to Your Menu

Unfortunately, most livestock farming and fishing practices have become very unsustainable and cause environmental damage. The negative impact of animal agriculture on the environment is vital to many people. Therefore, we have to cut down on meat and fish and instead substitute it with more vegetable-based dishes.

3. Prevent Food from Becoming Waste

A study launched by Unilever revealed that 72% of diners at restaurants care about how restaurants curb and handle food waste. Moreover, a dazzling 47% of these diners are willing to spend more to eat at a restaurant with an active food recovering system. It, therefore, makes sense to have an operational waste management plan, even if it costs money on the front end!

a. The Menu of a Sustainable Restaurant

We can minimize food waste by effective planning and being proactive. First, choose dishes to complement each other so that waste becomes less. For example, you can use day-old bread in croutons or stuffing and decent veggie scraps in soups or salads. Therefore, you must plan dishes to complement each other and use ingredients more effectively.

Another menu trick comes from getting your ingredients by planning dishes that use local and in-season crops. Staying with local and in-season crops will eliminate high transport costs and is more eco-friendly in the long run. Plan rotating menus that utilize in-season local produce will give your restaurant a unique in-season and local twist, cut down on waste, and enhance the local community.

The most important aspect of these practices is that good communication, and good relations are created with local producers and farms with positive attributes for all participants.

b. Portion Control is Important to Improve Restaurant Sustainability

Most restaurants serve large portions in order not to look stingy. However, it leads to a lot of food waste. By offering different portion sizes, waste is reduced. Some customers will dish up too much food, and some will be leftover with a buffet meal. Smaller plates and the absence of trays can help to curb the amount of food waste.

Good communication with customers concerning the reason for smaller portions and plates can benefit the restaurant. But, on the other hand, it can contribute to a general sense under customers not to waste food and thus help Texas.

c. Data Gathering Can Help Reducing Waste 

According to a report by Leanpath, a food waste tracking company, restaurants trash four to ten percent of the food they buy even before they dish it up for customers. Unfortunately, most restaurant owners would not be able to give you the percentage they waste, and in fact, that is an important metric to measure effective ingredient use.

Implementing systems that track food waste and usage will provide insights into where bought ingredients end up. Therefore it is essential from a financial and waste management viewpoint. Given the rush in a restaurant kitchen during the dinner rush, applying a simple system rather than a comprehensive plan that can become overwhelming is recommended. Instead, start with specific food preparation steps and solve them before moving to the next step. Specialized software based on sensors is available to quantify losses and reduce waste and costs. 

Remember that any data on waste production is better than none. In addition, reducing waste production will have positive financial attributes in the long run.

d. Keep a Stock Inventory 

You must know what food you have in stock at all times and their best before/expiry dates. In addition, training of staff is required to identify the specific storage space for a particular food. Finally, keeping an inventory will prevent food from becoming out of date or rotten. 

Employing a food inventory management system can cut expenditure and increase profit. It will supply you with insightful data to make better strategic decisions for the future. It will also help in menu selection and other practices that will be profitable and will cut food waste.

e. Manage Ingredients More Effectively

Sometimes imperfect fruit and vegetables are just trashed, although they are internally and nutritionally the same as their aesthetically pleasing counterparts. Using them as an internal part of a dish will only attribute to its taste, and less waste will occur. At the same time, this practice will save money, and profit margins will escalate.

4. Using Unavoidable Restaurant Waste in Circular Economy

Effective restaurant waste management is discussed in an article about sustainable restaurant waste management in Texas.

a. Donating Food Leftovers to People in Need

Restaurants can donate food leftovers to several agencies and people in need that will be thankful for the food. Finding food banks and pantries is easy, and we can provide you with this list of food banks and pantries in Texas.

b. Donating Food Leftovers as Animal Feed

Partnering with local organic farmers through Texasrealfood to utilize food leftovers as animal feed can reduce collection costs and boost the local economy. 

c. Composting Organic Material to improve a Sustainable Restaurant

Composting has been one of the most immense missed opportunities by restaurant owners. With the aid of Texasrealfood, the gap between the consumers and producers is narrowed. Likewise, the gap between restaurant waste and the producer can be minimized by the same system already in place. Producers can use waste in composting to supply nutrient-rich soil to propagate fresh in-season produce for restaurants.

There are large waste collection companies involved in the composting industry. However, starting with local producers that do compost keep everything local, and the interaction can lead to meaningful partnerships in the future.

The EPA also supplies a compelling list of compost options and even training in compost handling.  

d. Recycling of Cooking Oil

Used cooking oil, fats, and solids can be recycled, and various companies even may have a collection option, while used oil recycling drop-off stations are available all over Texas. Research the local options available, and it is possible to earn money by recycling cooking oil.

5. Advertise Your Sustainable Restaurant

Advertise on social media and in your restaurant that you are a sustainable food supplier helping Texas and the planet. Share the news with regular updates and new initiatives to keep your growing clientele informed on how your restaurant contributes to saving Texas.

6. Utilize Solar Energy to Increase Restaurant Sustainability

Installing a solar energy system to supply all or part of your energy needs is another way to save Texas and the planet. At the same time, the financial benefits that you will incur are staggering. You can even sell the excess energy that you don’t need.

An extensive array of companies can help you in this competitive industry in Texas, and they have fantastic deals and support.  

I don’t want to conclude because there are more ways to make your restaurant more sustainable, but we will leave that to your vibrant imagination. But just imagine a restaurant with solar power, cooking with solar ovens situated right beside a vertical vegetable garden where you serve wholesome fresh fruit from the farm. That will be awesome, and people will queue to dine there because they know everything is done with sustainability in mind.

But becoming more and more sustainable in your restaurant can only be done through actively thinking about sustainability. Then, the sky is the limit, and your clients will love your restaurant while you enjoy prosperity and make a remarkable difference in Texas.