Sustainability Practices in the Restaurant Industry: A Conversation with Lisle, Founder of Isle of Us
DATE: 04/18/23

Sustainability Practices in the Restaurant Industry: A Conversation with Lisle, Founder of Isle of Us

As sustainability gains importance worldwide, industries like fashion and beauty are focusing on eco-friendly practices. The restaurant industry, known for high waste and a large carbon footprint, is also seeking sustainable solutions. We spoke with Lisle Richards, founder of Isle of Us, a restaurant prioritizing sustainability, to learn about their journey and challenges in building a greener business.

Lisle admitted, "restaurants are one of the most unsustainable industries," which may seem counterintuitive since it revolves around food production. However, sustainability in this context is complex and involves multiple aspects like food sourcing, meat production, supply chain logistics, and waste management. Translation? Not the sexy stuff. 

To tackle these issues, Isle of Us has implemented numerous sustainability practices. Lisle explains, "I work with farms from upstate to source the vast majority of my produce...we have all sustainable packaging for any of our to-go [orders]." The restaurant also avoids serving certain proteins due to their environmental impacts. Lisle elaborates, "we don't serve red meat and shrimp because they are really unsustainable foods."

Energy and water consumption are other areas where the Isle of Us has made conscious choices. Lisle shares, "when I built the kitchen, we made specific decisions regarding air-cooled units versus water-cooled's better for the environment." 

Educating and engaging the staff is also critical to the success of Isle of Us's sustainability mission. Lisle says, "it's super important to educate our staff. They are the one's actually communicating with the customer." Ensuring that the team is well-informed and passionate about the restaurant's sustainability goals not only helps maintain a culture that values sustainability but also empowers staff to educate customers about the restaurant's eco-friendly practices.

Lisle's journey with Isle of Us demonstrates that while creating a sustainable restaurant can be challenging and intricate, it is achievable with the right mindset and commitment. By focusing on local sourcing, sustainable packaging, and staff education, Isle of Us is making a significant impact on the restaurant industry and providing a valuable example for others to follow.

And now for some fun stuff...

Q: We always talk about like wellness your way at Sage + Sound. What's wellness, your way? 

A: I really love the idea of like having writing be a daily practice 

Q: Go-to Isle of Us snack these days?

A: Our spicy kelp noodle salad, available in our deli case. 

Q: Go-to dinner of choice?

A: Our roasted 1/2 chicken for two. It comes with a simple salad, choice of two salads and a sauce. Yumm