5 Restaurants Curbing Food Waste in Innovative Ways

Bowery Produce


Food waste in restaurants is a big deal. Each year, New York city businesses produce up to 650,000 tons of food scraps, and restaurants play a large role. Instead of going to the landfill, these food scraps could instead be used to feed people, create energy and boost and nourish soil that can then be used to produce more food.

Eager to make a change, many New York City restaurants have started using creative methods for reducing their food waste footprint. Here, five of the restaurants making this effort a part of their daily routine:

Graffiti Earth
130 Duane St.
Sustainability without compromising flavor is a driving objective for Graffiti Earth chef Jehangir Mehta. At this Tribeca eatery, you’ll find flavorful vegetable-driven cuisine cooked with food waste in mind. This means meals are whipped up using unwanted “ugly” fruits and vegetables, underutilized seafood, portions of produce commonly thought of as scraps and other responsibly sourced items. Even the decor and furnishings here aim to be sustainable, from fabric scrap napkins and newspaper placemats to hand-me-down dishware and cutlery.

659 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn
One great way to eliminate food waste is to grow your own. Olmsted sources many ingredients for its seasonal menus from a recently expanded backyard garden in Prospect Heights, which is complete with vegetables and herbs along with a quail coop, composter, greenhouse and clawfoot-tub aquaponic system for raising crawfish.

58 W 8th St.
One of a few restaurants in the city to dish up meals in reusable glass jars, Ancolie aims to take a sustainable approach to convenience. Whether you dine in or take away, you won’t find any plastic containers, bags or utensils here. If you decide not to dine in, you can return your jar for $1.

This Greenwich Village spot serves healthyish breakfasts, lunches and snacks like rainbow salad and apple compote made using the entire inside portion of the fruit. Ancolie keeps food waste down by ordering in small amounts, composting all food scraps, using each ingredient in at least two recipes and using 100 percent of each ingredient, says founder Chloe Vichot.

151 Rivington St.
“Sustainable” cocktails are a huge focus in the beverage world these days, and Nitecap is no stranger to reducing waste. A few ways this Lower East Side cocktail bar shows the environment some kindness, shared by co-owner Natasha David: Use the full fruit—pickled watermelon rinds, pickled jalapeño flesh and dehydrated pineapples for garnish, and jalapeño seeds for whipping up spicy cocktail infusions; turn day-old juice into a cordial, which the bar then uses in happy hour cocktails; and use biodegradable corn-based straws and metal straws, not plastic. Eventually, the bar may forgo straws completely.

125 La Salle St.
Stop by Pisticci in Morningside Heights for the chance to eat at a spot that’s aiming to be New York City’s first carbon-neutral restaurant. Fully focused on reducing consumption and waste, Pisticci has a “seed to table” emphasis and focus on regenerative agriculture. Much of the food comes from the restaurant’s farm upstate, where all crops are grown organically without gas-powered equipment and nurtured with compost produced on site in the city.