The Perennial: San Francisco restaurant setting a sustainable model for restaurants to follow

San Francisco is leading the way when it comes to implementing zero waste and taking action, now one of the city’s restaurants – The Perennial – has set itself the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable restaurant, and wants other restaurants to follow in its footsteps.

Husband-and-wife team Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint opened The Perennial in San Francisco in 2016 with the aim to run an environmentally friendly restaurant with a minimal carbon footprint.

At The Perennial, chefs Anthony Myint and Michael Andreatta cook with vegetables from The Perennial’s greenhouse and local farms, the seafood is grown or caught sustainably, and pastured meat is brought in from ranches that prioritise ecology, animal welfare, and carbon farming. Bread is also baked daily on site with the perennial grain Kernza.

The restaurant itself is decked out in furnishings made from reclaimed wood. The tiles behind the bar are recycled from glass bottles, toilets and bathtubs and pre-consumer waste; and the windows are made from curbside-recycled bottles and jars. LED lighting is used throughout the restaurant for its energy efficiency. The silverware is second-hand.

And what’s more, the cotton napkins used at The Perennial go to a green laundry. Once the napkins can no longer be used, worms at the restaurant’s aquaponic farm in Oakland eat the napkins. Even the menus, which are printed on 100% recycled paper, and will eventually become worm-feed too.

As The Perennial’s menu clearly states: “The Perennial is a restaurant and bar dedicated to environmental sustainability. We believe that food must be part of the climate change conversation, and that restaurants can lead the way. We’re trying to re-think everything about the food world and we’re happy to tell you about it. (Or you can just enjoy the food.)”

Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint couple are no newbies to the city’s restaurant scene having been behind a number of San Francisco eateries since 2008. They founded the pop-up Mission Street Food; Mission Chinese Food; the farm-to-table bistro, Commonwealth, and the combination waffle-and-salad stand inside a cafe, Lt. Waffles/GreenSalads.org. The couple have also written cookbooks together including Mission Street Food.

Each of the couple’s restaurants have always had a charitable component and a portion of the proceeds frequently get donated to organisations such as the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. More recently, the couple’s efforts and energies have been ploughed in to the environment – what Karen Leibowitz identifies as the most pressing issue of the time.

Helping to fight climate change, Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint are using their restaurant as a platform to raise awareness about the environmental impact of food and farming. And with a dinner menu that frequently changes, given the nature of running a sustainable restaurant, The Perennial is aiming to become a model for the future of eating.

The couple hope that their endeavours in creating a fully-sustainable restaurant can be used as a model for new restaurants.

The Perennial

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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