Turn Your Restaurant Into an Eco-eatery - Black Enterprise

Turn Your Restaurant Into an Eco-eatery

Terence Dickson opened Terra Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland, realizing his dream of a eco-friendly restaurant. (Source: Kwana P. Strong)

Short on cash but long on passion, Terence Dickson set in motion a decade-old dream of opening a restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland, two years ago.

In 1998, Dickson purchased a storefront nestled on the corner of 25th and St. Paul Streets, a bustling area home to Johns Hopkins University students and working-class residents. Despite the buy, it took him years to find a niche for Terra Café, and secure capital to restore and furnish his new spot.

But the historical restoration contractor turned restaurateur wasn’t short on ideas for his homegrown eatery. With the help of Michael Jordan, an account manager at Ram Supplies Co., a local business that specializes in restaurant and property management supplies, he developed plans to turn his vision environmentally friendly.

“I’m pushing the envelope when it comes to being green,” Dickson says of this self-described “casual gourmet” hot spot.

Serving up freshly cooked grilled chicken sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, Angus beef burgers, and other meals ranging from $8 to $19.95, Terra Café has garnered much attention from Baltimore residents since opening in December.
The burgeoning eatery is among the many large corporations and mom and pop shops going green. The trend has picked up steam as President Barack Obama moves forward with tax incentives for consumers and businesses pursuing eco-friendly practices.

For restaurateurs looking to attract the eco-conscious palate, turning your eatery green can help take your business to the next level and reduce overhead costs driving up the bottom line, according to Energy Star.

Turning your restaurant into an eco-eatery isn’t has hard or expensive as it sounds.

Planning Makes Perfect

Lack of planning and education is what makes going green seem burdensome and overwhelming for most restaurateurs, says Chris Moyer, a manager at Conserve, the National Restaurant Association‘s environmental initiative. Entreprenuers must first know what it means to be eco-friendly and research low-cost ways to implement practices, he adds.

Next, realize the savings benefits. Since the goal of business is to maximize profit, calculate how the changes will cut expenses. Understanding the financial benefits will also ease the journey. “You can’t be a green business if you’re not in business,” Moyer says.

While profits for most restaurants typically range from 3% to 9% of total revenue, going green can yield up to a 30% return, according to Energy Star.