Asheville is known as a sort of local food-haven. Now it's leading the way in an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of restaurants. The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is using a $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund to make upgrades in 18 Asheville restaurants.
The goal is to have them all certified "green" by the Green Restaurants Association. Only eight restaurants in North Carolina have earned that status. Half of them are in Asheville. Peter Pollay owns Posana Cafe, the first restaurant certified "green" in the state.
Peter Pollay: "We just kinda did it because we felt it was the right thing to do, especially when renovating an entire restaurant, it's the easiest time to do it. Every day we find new ways to function in a more sustainable manner, and this grant is a big aspect of that."
A few of the improvements will include upgrading to energy-efficient lighting and solar hot water systems, getting rid of Styrofoam, making all to-go boxes compostable or recyclable, and installing programmable thermostats. Pollay says the biggest thing is to buy local and support local businesses.
As to why Asheville already has half of North Carolina's certified restaurants, Pollay says it's just a reflection of what Asheville's all about.
Pollay: "We just have a different mindset up here. We do want to have great food and great customer service. However, we live in the mountains because we love the mountains, and we'd like to keep that. I think it's just the mindset of going the extra step and doing what we can to lower all of our carbon footprint in this area."
The only restaurants certified in the Triangle area are Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro and Sweet Tomatoes in Raleigh and Cary.