From the rooftop gardens to miles and miles of bike paths, Chicago has led the nation in efforts to "go green." And on Tuesday, 20 Chicago restaurants were praised for the steps they've taken to protect the environment.
The "Guaranteed Green" program launched last fall when some of the city's finest restaurants committed to pursuing sustainability in a comprehensive manner by going through a rigorous certification process.
At the busy Sopraffina Marketcaffe on West Adams Street, everything from the bathrooms to the kitchens has been redone to protect Mother Nature.
"We recycle all plastics, we recycle tin [and] glass, and what's left to go to the landfill is very little. We're recycling about 70 percent of our waste stream," said the Marketcaffe's Dan Rosenthal.
Included in the inaugural class of The Green Chicago Restaurant Cooperative are celebrity chef Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill and Topolobambo.
"Going through the certification made us really shine a flashlight into areas that we hadn't even looked at; hadn't even thought to look at before," Bayless said.
Glenn Keefer's steakhouse lead the effort to ban smoking in Chicago restaurants and is also part of the cooperative.
"I think this issue is very much the same," said Keefer. "It's the right thing to do. Eventually we're all going to need to think this way. Otherwise we're going to bury ourselves in garbage."
Eight more restaurants are in the pipeline to becoming certified and will be able to have an emblem placed in their front window featuring the green sprouting fork, which is the signal to Chicago diners that the restaurant they've chosen places value on the health of the environment.
The 20 Inaugural "Guaranteed Green" Restaurants include:
- Big Jones
- Bleeding Heart Bakery
- Blind Faith Cafe
- Dining Room at Kendall College
- Frontera Grill
- Keefer's Restaurant
- Poag Mahone's
- Roti Mediterranean Grill
- Simone's Bar
- Sopraffina Marketcaffe
- Trattoria No. 10
- Uncommon Ground