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Asheville is America’s First Green Dining Destination

Friday, November 16th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – For the first time ever, one of America’s cities, Asheville, North Carolina, has earned the official designation of being a Green Dining Destination.  This achievement means that locals, tourists, and businesspeople can dine at a plethora of Certified Green Restaurants throughout Asheville. This accomplishment was driven by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR), and the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI), who formed a local Coalition to encourage more environmentally sustainable practices within the city’s restaurants.

This month, Asheville has met and exceeded its goal of having 15 Certified Green Restaurants throughout the city, all of which have met the GRA’s rigorous certification standards. As the 16th restaurant in Asheville recently earned its certification, the Coalition has now reached its goal of Asheville becoming the nation’s first Green Dining Destination.

Mayor Terry M. Bellamy Proudly States: 

“I am both proud and honored that the Green Restaurant Association has designated Asheville as America’s first Green Dining Destination™. Asheville’s 15 Certified Green Restaurants are leading the way toward zero waste, energy independence, and sustainable food… When you visit Asheville you will have an amazing selection of extraordinary green restaurants.”

“The Asheville area prides itself on a food culture that embraces fresh, innovative cuisine that integrates product from local growers and artisan food producers,” Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Stephanie Brown noted.  “The prestigious designation of “Green Dining Destination” is an accomplishment that adds to Asheville’s reputation as a distinctive culinary destination.”

All of Asheville’s Certified Green Restaurant have met the GRA’s rigorous certification standards by earning at least 100 GreenPoints in the categories of food, water, waste, energy, chemicals, and disposables. Additionally, each Certified Green Restaurant has eliminated use of polystyrene foam, (aka StyroFoam), and has implemented a full-scale recycling program.

The 16 Certified Green Restaurants in the city are:

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge Homegrown
Laughing Seed Cafe, Luella’s Bar-B-Que
Plant Restaurant Neo Cantina
Posana Cafe Rosetta’s Kitchen
Strada Italiano The Corner Kitchen
The Green Sage The Green Sage South
Tupelo Honey Café Tupelo Honey Cafe South
Cedric’s Tavern on the Biltmore Estate Bouchon

“We are thrilled to be one of the Certified Green Restaurants that has helped Asheville become the nation’s first Green Dining Destination,” says Randy Tally from The Green Sage.

Leslie H. Armstrong from Plant Restaurant adds, “Our customers care greatly about the environmental impact of the restaurants they visit. Because our menu is exclusively plant-based, our ecological footprint is inherently light. As a Certified Green Restaurant, we’re pleased that we can provide transparent details about how we’ve become even more environmentally sustainable across our operations.”

Green-minded consumers can easily locate the continually expanding list of Certified Green Restaurants online by visiting DinegreenAsheville.com, which also features the detailed environmental accomplishments of each location. Further, on the website, diners can learn more about the environmental impact of the restaurant industry, and encourage even more local restaurants to go green.

For those with mobile devices, an Asheville Certified Green RestaurantFinder mobile app is available for download at the top of DinegreenAsheville.com and will soon be accessible in the Apple and Android app stores. The app was created by Squiggle IT and features map-based and cuisine-based green restaurant searches, allowing you to identify the perfect Certified Green Restaurant in Asheville to suit your culinary mood.

Online Features Include:

  • The first interactive map of Asheville’s Certified Green Restaurants
  • Certified Green Restaurant listings
  • Green Label Transparency Tools showing each Asheville Certified Green Restaurant’s itemized environmental steps and GreenPoints
  • Downloadable Suggestion Cards to encourage more restaurants to go green
  • Education on the environmental impact of the restaurant industry
  • Media content about Asheville’s Certified Green Restaurants

“As a Green Dining Destination, Asheville truly satisfies the 79% of people who prefer to dine at Certified Green Restaurants,” says Michael Oshman, CEO and Founder of the Green Restaurant Association. “We are proud of Asheville’s Certified Green Restaurants, and we are proud to have worked with AIR and BRSI to help Asheville achieve this historic accomplishment.  Conventions, tourists, and locals can now know that Asheville is truly a Green Dining Destination.”

About the Green Restaurant Association

The Green Restaurant Association is a national non-profit organization that provides the only official Certified Green Restaurants mark in the country. For 22 years, the GRA has pioneered the Green Restaurant movement and has been the leading voice within the industry encouraging restaurants to listen to consumer demand and green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. With their turnkey certification system, the GRA has made it easy for thousands of restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable in a profitable manner. The GRA is endorsed by scores of national environmental organizations such as NRDC, and esteemed trade organizations including the New York State Restaurant Association, Orange County Restaurant Association and America Public Garden Association. The GRA is also an Energy Star partner. In 2010, CitySearch announced the GRA as their official Green Restaurant® listing partner. The GRA has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, NPR and in The new York Times and The Washington Post. For more information, visit www.dinegreen.com

About the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute

The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is a Western North Carolina non-profit that applies scientific research and advanced systems approaches to encourage fresh ideas in government and industry as well as providing practical tools for policymakers, educators, community activists, and entrepreneurs. Embracing a mission of ‘Knowledge into Action’, BRSI focuses on education, advocacy and action in support of regional, national, and international sustainability initiatives. For more information about BRSI, please contact [email protected] or visit www.blueridgesustainability.org.

About the Asheville Independent Restaurant

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) has a mission to unite the independent restaurant community of Asheville NC as committed to local people, local philanthropies, local businesses, local food and the local economy, with a promise to preserve the authenticity of our mountain home through genuine food and signature hospitality. For more information about becoming a member restaurant or business partner of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, please contact [email protected], or visit www.airasheville.org.

AIR/Taste of Asheville Event November 14

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants (AIR) will celebrate a big evening of what makes Asheville a culinary destination beginning at 7 p.m. November 14th at The Venue. Not only will 40 talented chefs ,the most ever in the event’s history-dazzle attendees at AIR’s Taste of Asheville event, there are also plans to announce an exciting new marketing initiative for the organization that will be launched in early 2013.

On sale Oct. 1st, ticket entry to the event includes small plate tastings of 40 local, independent restaurants as well as beer and wine samplings. In addition,  AIR’s new Taste of Asheville Passport for the year 2013 will be available for purchase on-site, a coupon booklet representing over $1000 in dining savings at AIR restaurants, for the cost of $50. Fans of Asheville’s many independent restaurants will want to purchase a Taste of Asheville Passport, regardless of their ability to attend the November 14 event since the $1000 in savings – a tremendous value — is good for one year. Passports will also available for sale after the event at www.airasheville.org.

A portion of the proceeds from the evening ticket sales every year benefit various programming and outreach efforts, some of which include AIR’s Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarships for culinary students at AB-Tech, as well as the GO! Kitchen Ready Training Program- an initiative started by AIR and past AIR board members.

“We have a lot to be excited about with the event this year,” said AIR President Anthony Cerrato, “this is the largest participation of member restaurants we have ever had for Taste Of Asheville and we are proud of our momentum as an organization – there are good things happening in our community as Asheville continues to be recognized as a great place to eat, drink and enjoy.”

Participating restaurants for the 2012 Taste of Asheville event are Acropolis Pizza, Avenue M, Blue Water Seafood Co., Boca, Bouchon, Burgerworx,  Carmels, Chai Pani, City Bakery Café, Corner Kitchen, Creperie Bouchon, D.I. Hospitality, Edna’s Of Asheville, Frankie Bones, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Green Sage, Homegrown , Jack of Hearts, Jack of the Wood, Jerusalem Garden Café, Karen Donatelli Café, Laughing Seed, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Luella’s BBQ, Mamacitas Baja Kitchen, Mela, Neo Burrito, Neo Cantina, Pack’s Tavern, Plant, Pomodoros, Sazerac, Scully’s, Strada, Sunny Point Café, The Local Joint, The Glass Onion, Tupelo Honey Café, Ultimate Ice Cream, Vincenzos and Vinnies Neighborhood Italian. The event also features wines and beer from AIR industry partners.

For Taste of Asheville tickets and 2013 Passports, visit www.airasheville.org.

AIR/Taste of Asheville Event November 4

Friday, October 5th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants (AIR) will celebrate a big evening of what makes Asheville a culinary destination beginning at 7 p.m. November 14th at The Venue. Not only will 40 talented chefs ,the most ever in the event’s history-dazzle attendees at AIR’s Taste of Asheville event, there are also plans to announce an exciting new marketing initiative for the organization that will be launched in early 2013.

On sale Oct. 1st, ticket entry to the event includes small plate tastings of 40 local, independent restaurants as well as beer and wine samplings. In addition,  AIR’s new Taste of Asheville Passport for the year 2013 will be available for purchase on-site, a coupon booklet representing over $1000 in dining savings at AIR restaurants, for the cost of $50. Fans of Asheville’s many independent restaurants will want to purchase a Taste of Asheville Passport, regardless of their ability to attend the November 14 event since the $1000 in savings – a tremendous value — is good for one year. Passports will also available for sale after the event at www.airasheville.org.

A portion of the proceeds from the evening ticket sales every year benefit various programming and outreach efforts, some of which include AIR’s Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarships for culinary students at AB-Tech, as well as the GO! Kitchen Ready Training Program- an initiative started by AIR and past AIR board members.

“We have a lot to be excited about with the event this year,” said AIR President Anthony Cerrato, “this is the largest participation of member restaurants we have ever had for Taste Of Asheville and we are proud of our momentum as an organization – there are good things happening in our community as Asheville continues to be recognized as a great place to eat, drink and enjoy.”

Participating restaurants for the 2012 Taste of Asheville event are Acropolis Pizza, Avenue M, Blue Water Seafood Co., Boca, Bouchon, Burgerworx,  Carmels, Chai Pani, City Bakery Café, Corner Kitchen, Creperie Bouchon, D.I. Hospitality, Edna’s Of Asheville, Frankie Bones, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Green Sage, Homegrown , Jack of Hearts, Jack of the Wood, Jerusalem Garden Café, Karen Donatelli Café, Laughing Seed, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Luella’s BBQ, Mamacitas Baja Kitchen, Mela, Neo Burrito, Neo Cantina, Pack’s Tavern, Plant, Pomodoros, Sazerac, Scully’s, Strada, Sunny Point Café, The Local Joint, The Glass Onion, Tupelo Honey Café, Ultimate Ice Cream, Vincenzos and Vinnies Neighborhood Italian. The event also features wines and beer from AIR industry partners.

For Taste of Asheville tickets and 2013 Passports, visit www.airasheville.org.

AIR Announces Asheville’s Small Plate Crawl Feb 21-23

Monday, February 13th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants announces The Asheville Small Plate Crawl event February 21-23, 2012. Three full days of small plate tastes.  Dozens of Asheville’s finest restaurants serving small plates and showcasing their cuisine.  Plates priced from $3-8.  Visit ashevillesmallplatecrawl.com for more information.

AIR Restaurants Closer to Green Certification

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants are reaching a milestone as the year draws to a close in completing an important stage in the green restaurant initiative. A significant number of AIR restaurants participating in the green restaurant certification, have either completed or are in midst of installations of solar panels for hot water usage. The installation is the latest step toward a grant project in the works since mid-2011 in conjunction with Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI).

Awarded from the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology’s Green Business Fund through a unique partnership with the Asheville Independent Restaurant (AIR) Association, the $258,000 grant will improve the environmental sustainability and economic success of 17 AIR member restaurants. In addition, the BRSI/AIR partnership, a major component of BRSI’s Regional Energy Upfit Campaign, will provide the foundation for Asheville as a Green Dining Destination™ city, attracting tourism and promoting job creation and economic development in the region. The funding will enhance the restaurants’ efforts to increase use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation in support of achieving Green Certified Restaurant® status through the national Green Restaurant Association.

“It is very exciting to be part of this grant and the movement of AIR restaurants to become greener and have less of an impact on our environment,” said Peter Pollay, owner of Posana Café /AIR Board Treasurer and Green Team member.“Asheville has had a long standing outlook on pro-sustainability and AIR restaurants want to do our part to support that effort.”

AIR members included in the grant and working toward or have completed GRA certification are Bouchon, Burgermeister’s, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Corner Kitchen, The Green Sage downtown (Completed), Green Sage south, Fiores downtown, Fiores south location, Frankie Bones, Homegrown, Laughing Seed Café, Jack of the Wood, Luella’s BBQ, Tupelo Honey Café downtown (Completed), Tupelo Honey Café south location (Completed), Neo Cantina, and Rosetta’s Kitchen. AIR member Posana Café in downtown Asheville, the first certified restaurant in NC, also participated in the grant and is one of only eight existing GRA certified restaurants in North Carolina. Four of the eight restaurants are in Asheville, Posana Café, Tupelo Honey Café (both downtown and south locations) and The Green Sage, downtown.

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is committed to the local economy, local businesses, and local philanthropies. For more information about becoming a member, associate member or sponsor of the Asheville Independent Restaurants, please contact [email protected], or visit www.airasheville.org.

AIR Offers December Holiday Passport: Give the Gift of Local Dining

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants (AIR) is offering a special promotion during the month of December for its popular dining Passport, which is a coupon booklet representing over $1000 in dining savings. Normally $50, the promotion is extended to include bulk purchases with a minimum of 10 at $45 per book, and with more than 20, the price is dropped to $40 per book. “For individuals and companies looking to offer a unique local gift over the holidays, this is something that can be used for a full year, as well as the added value of helping support our local restaurants,” says Anthony Cerrato, AIR Board President.

Participating restaurants include: Avenue M, 
Blue Ridge Dining Room
, Blue Water Seafood
, Boca, 
Bouchon, 
Chai Pani, 
Chef Mo
, Chelseas Tea Room, 
City Bakery, 
Corner Kitchen, 
Creperie Bouchon, 
Curate Tapas Bar, 
Dining Innovations, 
Fiore’s Ristorante Toscana, 
Frankie Bones
, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge
, The Green Sage, 
Homegrown
, Horizons Dining Room, 
Jack of Hearts, 
Jack of the Wood, 
Laughing Seed
, Lexington Avenue Brewery, 
The Lobster Trap, 
Luella’s Bar-B-Que, 
Mamacitas, 
The Market Place, 
Mela Indian Restaurant
, Neo Cantina
, Olive or Twist
, Pack’s Tavern
, Pomodoros
, Sunset Terrace
, Tupelo Honey, 
Ultimate Ice Cream, 
Vincenzo’s
 and Vinnies Neighborhood Italian.

 

To order in bulk please email [email protected]. For additional information on AIR and coupon book restrictions, please visit www.airasheville.org.

 

Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute and Asheville Independent Restaurant Association Receive $258,000 Green Business Fund Grant

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI) has received a $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology’s Green Business Fund through a unique partnership with the Asheville Independent Restaurant (AIR) Association. The grant will improve the environmental sustainability and economic success of 17 AIR member restaurants.

The BRSI/AIR partnership, a major component of BRSI’s Regional Energy Upfit Campaign, will provide the foundation for Asheville as a Green Dining Destination™ city, attracting tourism and promoting job creation and economic development in the region. The funding will enhance the restaurants’ efforts to increase use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation in support of achieving Green Certified Restaurant® status through the national Green Restaurant Association.

“We are working to establish Asheville as the greenest dining destination in the country,” said Randy Talley, owner of The Green Sage Restaurant and AIR board member. “This means we aim to have the most Certified Green Restaurants® per capita of any city in the U.S. Not only will it benefit our restaurants but it will have a positive impact on our community and region, including local farms, local breweries and local businesses.”

During the last year AIR—an organization of 65 independently owned restaurants—has nearly doubled its membership, provided GREAT Kitchens certification through the National Foundation for Celiac Disease Awareness, and contributed $5000 of a 2011 $10,000 commitment to the Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund at A-B Technical Community College. Through a recent AIR membership survey, the organization’s economic impact on the Asheville community was estimated to include $58 million in revenues and $19 million in payroll in 2010.

AIR members included in the grant and working towards GRA certification are Bouchon, Burgermeister’s, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Corner Kitchen, The Green Sage, Fiores downtown, Fiores south location, Frankie Bones, Homegrown, Laughing Seed Café, Jack of the Wood, Luella’s BBQ, Tupelo Honey Café downtown, Tupelo Honey Café south location, Neo Cantina, and Rosetta’s Kitchen. AIR member Posana Café in downtown Asheville, also participating in the grant, is one of only two existing GRA certified restaurants in North Carolina. Other AIR member restaurants pursuing GRA certification include Bouchon Street Food and The Green Sage south location.

The Green Business Fund grant will enable restaurants to implement a variety of energy efficiency and energy-saving measures including solar hot water installations, HVAC and refrigeration improvements, lighting upgrades and training in energy conservation practices. These improvements are expected to save nearly 3.4 billion BTUs of energy each year, roughly equivalent of unplugging 110,000 televisions. Grant funds are provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will also create the equivalent of two full-time local jobs.

BRSI Energy Upfit Campaign Manager Tim Ballard commented that “The partnership between BRSI and AIR provides a unique opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the local economy while reducing regional energy consumption and the associated environmental impacts. We hope this project’s effect on Asheville’s national reputation as hub of environmental initiatives will inspire other businesses to tackle the challenge of sustainability within their own sectors.”

While the initial phase of the project funded by the Green Business Fund will be completed by the end of 2011, BRSI and AIR are seeking additional member participation and funding sources to expand the benefits to other restaurants. Tim Ballard of BRSI is the Project Manager for the Green Restaurant Initiative grant. He can be reached at [email protected] or 828-708-7022.

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is committed to the local economy, local businesses, and local philanthropies. For more information about becoming a member, associate member or sponsor of the Asheville Independent Restaurants, contact Amy Garcia at 338-9839 or [email protected]. The website for the organization is www.airasheville.org.

About the Green Restaurant Association

The Green Restaurant Association is a national non-profit organization that provides the only official Certified Green Restaurants® mark in the country. For two decades, the GRA has pioneered the Green Restaurant® movement and has been the leading voice within the industry encouraging restaurants to listen to consumer demand and green their operations using transparent, science-based certification standards. The GRA is endorsed by scores of national environmental organizations such as NRDC and Environmental Defense, and esteemed trade organizations including the New York State Restaurant Association, Orange County Restaurant Association, and America Public Garden Association. The GRA is also an Energy Star partner. The GRA has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, NPR, and in The New York Times, and The Washington Post. For more information visit www.dinegreen.com.

About the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute

The Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is a Western North Carolina non-profit applying hard science and advanced economic thinking, encouraging fresh ideas in government and industry, and providing practical tools for policymakers, educators, community activists, and entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina. Embracing a mission of ‘Knowledge into Action’, BRSI focuses on education, advocacy and action in support of regional, national, and international sustainability imperatives. BRSI’s current Energy Action Council project, as well as the BRSI/AIR collaboration, is in direct support of this effort. As an outgrowth of the Asheville HUB, Western North Carolina’s landmark economic and community development partnership, BRSI enjoys unique access to and support from the highest and most committed leadership levels of the region. Its diverse funding and client base includes local and national foundations; higher education; corporate and private sector support; and components of regional, state and federal government.

For more information about BRSI, please contact Paul Dezendorf at 828-301-3860 or [email protected]. The organization’s website is www.blueridgesustainability.org.