Snooze Eatery receives recognition from City for environmental practices; highlights local biofuel company
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
The Hillcrest Business Association presented their quarterly member open house on Wednesday, Aug. 29, focusing on facilitating a conversation about sustainable business practices in the Uptown neighborhood.
Hosted by Snooze, An A.M. Eatery at 3940 Fifth Ave., approximately 60 people were in attendance at the meeting, including Congressmember Susan Davis and Councilmember Todd Gloria. Each spoke, with Davis first to acknowledge Snooze’s environmentally friendly efforts.
“We know in San Diego we’ve got so many great people that are really working hard on these issues. We want to be at the cutting edge of this,” Davis said. “I know how hard you are all working.”
Davis sits on the House Sustainable Energy and Environmental Coalition, a congressional group organized to advance national policies to promote clean energy innovation, develop renewable energy sources and create “green-collar,” or environmental, jobs.
Gloria and Ana Carvalho, an environmental specialist from the City, presented Snooze with an award for their sustainable practices, recognizing the steps the restaurant owners and employees have taken to be a green business. Carvalho, who oversees the City’s recycling and composting programs, said San Diego has one of the best recycling programs in the nation.
Calling Snooze a “role-model” businesses, Gloria said, “We have this placard that they can place in their window to acknowledge that they are leaders in sustainability.” He then called on other business owners at the meeting to follow the restaurant’s lead.
Snooze Manager Nick Papantonakis said he was thankful for the award, and called the restaurant business one of the “most wasteful” industries in which to work. “It was very important to the owners … to make sustainability a priority,” he said. “That’s a huge focus for us.”
Of the many ways Snooze works toward healthier environmental practices, Papantonakis pointed out one in particular: their relationship with the San Diego company New Leaf Biofuel.
New Leaf Biofuel is a commercial-grade biodiesel production company that recycles used vegetable oil – from Snooze’s fryers, for example – into a clean-burning, renewable fuel source for diesel engines. Jennifer Case, founder and CEO, spoke at the HBA meeting.
“Companies like Snooze and other restaurants in the area are really helping us to divert landfill waste and … to cleanout our sewers,” Case said. “Most importantly, they’re reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that come from petroleum diesel.”
Currently, New Leaf works with San Diego and Chula Vista, providing biofuel for some of both cities’ diesel vehicles. Case announced a new partnership with the San Diego school system, which will convert approximately 500 buses to biodiesel fuel by the 2014 school year.
“Sustainability really means to not use up a certain resource,” Case said, “so it’s always going to be renewed. That’s what vegetable oil is.”
Members in attendance were asked to provide a list of sustainable practices they find important. Of the responses, HBA Sponsorship and Concessions Manager Cassandra Ramhap said 60 percent of the feedback was related to plastic-bag use, with some offering suggestions on reducing their use. Suggestions included banning plastic bags and charging customers to use them, among others, she said.
Gloria complimented the HBA on their work, saying the organization’s 90-year history was an excellent example for other business districts in San Diego.
“We’re only as good as the neighborhood organizations that are in our communities. The [HBA] … has been a wonderful partner, really creating the kind of change and improvements that we want in Council District Three,” he said.
“As I go across the entire city of San Diego, other communities look to Hillcrest because they know that there is amazing stuff going on here.”
HBA Executive Director Benjamin Nicholls ended the meeting by announcing the organization was in the process of working out a program to implement sustainable practices into their weekly Farmers Market. Papantonakis, who Nicholls said is interested in running for the HBA board in October, also showed interested in seeing a more-sustainable market.
“When we work with our small business association, like the HBA, [and] with our small businesses like Snooze,” Gloria said, “we can make demonstrable improvements in our neighborhood, that is also actually improving the environment.”