Why This East End Eatery Wins Praise for 'Sustainability'

Dinette in East Liberty was recognized for actions that benefit the environment, its customers, employees, and the community.




DINETTE / PHOTO BY LAURA PETRILLA

 

The nonprofit organization Sustainable Pittsburgh last week announced that it now is awarding a “sustainable restaurants” designation to eateries in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Dinette in East Liberty is the first restaurant in the region to be recognized. “I was interested in the program because sustainability has always been a focus of Dinette,” says chef/owner Sonja J. Finn.

Program manager Rebecca Bykoski worked with a 23-member advisory committee — made up of Pittsburgh-area chefs (including Finn), growers, academics and public policy professionals — to create the guidelines for the program. They looked at the certification criteria suggested by the Green Restaurant Association and the Sustainable Restaurant Association, as well as to existing programs in other cities, for models of how to structure the program. The committee also decided to include a social justice component in the mix. “I thought that was important. Most other programs just focus on the environment,” says Bykoski.

To qualify for the designation, a restaurant owner must fill out a survey that’s divided into eight categories: general, waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, people, employee actions, responsible sourcing and nutrition. Restaurants are awarded points for actions that include offering health insurance to employees; providing access to fresh, healthy food to underserved communities; and guaranteeing a minimum amount of working hours for hourly employees.
 


A restaurant then will be placed at one of five levels depending on the number of points earned via the 149-question survey. Dinette is a gold-plate restaurant, the second highest level.

Bykoski says Sustainable Pittsburgh will work with restaurant owners both to walk through the questionnaire and to suggest ways to implement sustainability measures. “Small changes can often add up to big savings,” she says.

Finn says that just by looking into the program, a restaurant owner might be encouraged to make a few easy changes to the way he or she does business. “There might be ideas on there that you’re not even thinking about,” she says.

Restaurants recognized by Sustainable Pittsburgh will be listed on the organization’s website. Consumers can click on individual restaurants to find out which questions the restaurant owners answered “yes” to. This transparency, Finn believes, is how early program participants might have the greatest impact. “It isn’t just about what we do at Dinette. It’s about wanting the whole food system to be better. Whatever impact you can have by being a good example might help other restaurants gain the designation as well,” she says.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Eat & Drink:

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

PA Turnpike: In E-ZPass We Trust, and You Should Too

The turnpike wants to educate drivers to some changes arriving soon at toll booths.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

Market Square's Big New Bar is Surprisingly Good

You may not want to be charmed by City Works, but the beer-and-bites spot will likely win you over.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

The university will hold an environmental camp at the end of June.

Comments