Green

Popular Houston restaurant goes green

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A popular Houston restaurant is making a comeback and going green at the same time. Ruggles is back with a new green idea that's setting an example for other businesses.

Becoming a green certified restaurant goes way beyond selling a few organic entrees, and it's not just for health nuts. From buying local produce to using biodegradable containers, some owners have found that in the high pressure, trendy world of restaurants, green could sustain them.

A blazing oven, a sizzling hot kitchen, a line of customers nearly out the door at Ruggles Green -- it's a welcome sight for the cook and green guy who dreamed up the restaurant concept.

"The essence of Ruggles Green is to make a high quality product, great tasting food that's good for you - that's where the Ruggles name comes from -- and make it in a sustainable way," explained Federico Marques, known as the Green Guy at Ruggles.

The humble cook is none other than Chef Bruce Molzan, the chef who made the Ruggles name Houston institution.

He said, "Personally, I cook with my heart, so everything that I do, I try to do to the best of my ability."

Molzan uses locally grown and raises produce and meat and incorporates organic ingredients into many of his dishes.

"We're using all natural, all natural beef, no hormones, no antibiotics," Molzan explained. "Most of our produce is organic. We get it locally. Our pizzas are made with organic flour and tomato sauce."

At Ruggles Green, sustainability goes way beyond the menu.

"We have a company that comes and picks up (fryer oil) once or twice a week," Marques said. "I figured out that the restaurant industry is probably the dirtiest industry in the United States, in terms of waste output."

A chemist by trade, Marques is convinced the restaurant industry's dirty track record can be changed. So from recycling fryer oil and other waste, to using biodegradable take out containers, Marques makes sure the restaurant lives up to its name. The benefit from a restaurant recycling can be huge because a restaurant like this can generate as much cardboard and glass trash in one week as a family of four can in a year.

Ruggles Green is only the second green certified restaurant in the area. Still many other local restaurants are making environmentally conscious changes.

The Ruggles Green experiment seems to be going well so far. The restaurant has only been open for two months and it is so busy, they're going to add some tables. Some of the popular menu items include the pizzas, salads and the super gooey and delicious hemp brownies.

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green, laura whitley
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