Joe Reale practices what he preaches at Arancini House in Mt. Lebanon. Last year, the restaurant earned Gold Designation as a Sustainable Small Business. Read on for his “Insider” perspective on business sustainability in southwestern PA.
– What is a macro trend driving restaurants’ uptake of sustainability that all organizations should be watching for their own interests? (In other words, what are some big picture trends in sustainability that you see restaurants tapping into, either locally or beyond southwestern PA?)
A big trend nowadays is accountability. An increasing number of restaurants and organizations care more about the source of their ingredients or products, which is amazing. It’s no longer acceptable to be naive or shady about your suppliers and practices. Businesses that are transparent with their customers will surely win more trust in the long run. Startups would be smart to integrate sustainability practices from the ground up. Better to be born that way than to backtrack!
– Please share one or two examples of how Arancini House is integrating sustainable practices relative to resource conservation, employee care, or operational efficiencies and savings.
In addition to all of our energy saver kitchen appliances, all owners live within 1-3 miles of our restaurant. We walk or take the T to work in the community we live in, reducing our carbon footprint starting right with our commute. We recycle all possible waste, including our frying oils! We also encourage a healthy lifestyle for our owners and employees, offering a subsidy towards local gym memberships. There’s always more work to do and things to improve. We strive to identify these opportunities every day.
– What would leaders be surprised to know about Arancini’s own sustainability challenges and opportunities?
One consistent challenge is reasonably priced recycled takeout products. We’d like to see both options and prices improve as more restaurants focus on sustainability. We are always looking for opportunities to impact our customers with our commitment to becoming a “closed loop”. One dream is to own and operate a farm that supplies our restaurant with everything it needs to serve. Until then, we’ll keep doing our part to be an example for startups and existing businesses alike.