New Haven restaurant adopts business strategy to help environment

New Haven

The health of our planet has been a constant conversation for decades. 

“If you believe in science, then you know that we need to do something about our situation,” said Jason Sobocinski, co-owner of Olmo Kitchen — which used to be Caseus.

Olmo Kitchen in New Haven is doing its part to make sure it’s environmentally sustainable. 

“What we have done and the actions we have taken are actually starting to show in support,” explained Craig Hutchinson, co-owner of the restaurant. 

The co-owners have adopted an interesting business strategy. The utensils, straws, food containers and bowls are all compostable or biodegradable. 

“If you were to consume all of that stuff and you had a compostable trash can nearby that can all go in there and can be fully composted,” said Sobocinski. “Then, used to grow more vegetables to go back in more containers.”

That’s exactly what Olmo does. They basically buy back their compost and use it for their rooftop garden to grow herbs and vegetables for the restaurant to use. It’s in rough shape now due to the harsh winter months, but will look much different as we head into the growing season.

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“We are looking for that next step, the next ingredient to enhance what we do,” said Hutchinson.

Connecticut continues to move closer to a statewide ban on bags and takeout containers. Something that will impact countless businesses. What’s going on at Olmo may become the new norm one day. But that new norm does come at a price. 

“A normal heavy-duty spoon is going to cost me less than a third of a cent,” said Sobocinski. “These spoons cost me a cent and a half so right there we are talking three times the cost just for a spoon.”

However, restaurant looks at that those costs as a worthy investment.

“Some of them we absorb some of them we pass down to our guests and nobody has pushed back on us yet,” said Hutchinson. 

It’s important to note that the cost is often passed on during catering. People will be charged for the supplies, but the restaurant does not make a profit.

The hope is that the cost will come down as more restaurants go this route. 

“We’re only going to produce more garbage and if we don’t figure out a way to completely recycle and compost it, we are going to run out of space eventually,” said Sobocinski.

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