Chick-N-Grill, a four-unit fast casual chain in southern Florida, became the first Hispanic-owned chain in the U.S. to be dubbed a Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).
“Going green is something that we’ve always wanted to do,” says Al Salas, CEO of Koning Restaurants International, the parent company of Chick-N-Grill. “We wanted to do something that was right for the environment, so going green and insuring that it was not just about the building but that it was also about the food is something that we always want to do here at Koning Restaurants International.”
After collaborating with the GRA on what steps it could take to be more “green,” Salas says the company opted to focus not just on eco-conscious building elements, but also on the food itself. It chose to incorporate hormone-free chicken, with no MSG or Trans fat, and ditched frozen food. All of the food products at Chick-N-Grill are now fresh and produced locally.
In addition to the food, green building elements in each of the chicken concept’s units include chlorine-free, recycled paper products; biodegradable utensils; high efficiency aerators and spray valves in the kitchens; energy efficient hand dryers; and efficient trash compactors. Chick-N-Grill is also working to educate consumers and children in local schools about eco-friendly building as part of its focus on being green.
Salas says that there are plans to incorporate the green elements into the 62 Koning Restaurants–owned Pizza Huts in southern Florida as well, and build every future Chick-N-Grill to be green. One Chick-N-Grill location, on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, has applied for LEED status, the only approved LEED-certified building at FAU.
Salas says that green is the only way for the company to go in the future.
“If a franchisee does not believe in green, we’re not going to open a restaurant with that franchisee,” he says. “If you’re going to open a restaurant with this company as a franchisee, you have to truly believe and demonstrate that you believe in eco-friendly [initiatives], or else you’re not going to get a restaurant.”