It’s no secret that restaurants run on slim profit margins, and restaurants with tight budgets and minimal resources often put sustainability on the back burner. This often comes at a high cost to the environment – including unnecessary energy and water use, as well as exorbitant amounts of waste sent to local landfills.
Responding to these issues, Darden Restaurants, the Fortune 500 restaurant giant known for brands like Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, has made a commitment to reduce the physical footprint and amount of resources used at its more than 1,500 restaurants across the country.
The restaurant chain has already begun constructing new restaurants using the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Whether a location is LEED certified or not, Darden’s commitment is carried through to its restaurant design elements, which include LED lighting, low-flow sinks, water efficient landscaping, energy management systems and more. Darden also recently launched restaurant Sustainability Teams — self-selected, passionate employees tasked with keeping the company steadfast in its conservation goals.
Darden has set out to utilize innovative technology in all corners of its restaurants, appropriately dubbed ‘restaurants of the future.’ Keeping an eye on the latest technology and the needs of its seven distinct restaurant chains — which also include Seasons 52, the Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House — Darden now utilizes sustainable technologies that were not available even a decade ago, such as water-efficient pasta cookers, recyclable carpet, automatic light dimmers and organic recycling processes, the company said.
I sat down with Todd Taylor, vice president of design for Darden Restaurants, to find out what these ‘restaurants of the future’ look like — and how the company hopes to expand the concept moving forward.Click to continue reading »