Since opening in San Francisco in early January, The Perennial has elicited headlines asking, Is this the restaurant of the future? Is this the country’s most sustainable restaurant?
Perhaps a better question is, What do you get when you place a restaurant’s carbon footprint at the forefront of every decision made along the way? Karen Leibowitz, the restaurant’s co-founder and Director of Communications, explains this process.
This isn’t your first restaurant. You and your husband, Anthony Myint, started Mission Street Food (which became Mission Chinese Food) and Commonwealth, among other projects. How did this one come about?
In 2013 we were approached by the Avalon Group to start a restaurant on the ground floor of their apartments on 9th Street. At the time, we’d been thinking about ways to make our existing restaurants more sustainable, so we wondered what we would do if we started from the beginning with the environment in mind. We said we’d only agree to look into this opportunity if we could go all the way with respect to the environment. And they said, great!
The Perennial’s website includes a great deal of information about the choices you’ve made. How do you communicate your greater mission to guests once they’ve walked through the door?
We ask our servers to meet diners at their level of interest. They’re trained to answer questions about what we’re doing, but not to speechify. Our dinner menu says:
The Perennial is a restaurant and bar dedicated to environmental sustainability. We believe that food must be part of the climate change conversation, and that restaurants can lead the way. We’re trying to re-think everything about the food world and we’re happy to tell you about it. (Or you can just enjoy the food.)