Last week we wondered why notoriously progressive Birdbath wasn’t on a list of restaurants certified by the Green Restaurant Association. Owner Maury Rubin, who also operates City Bakery, tells us he didn’t seek certification from the GRA partly because he feels their requirements don’t go far enough. And how far is he willing to go? By this summer, he says, he’ll institute a program which offers his employees incentives, via a “company-wide friendly competition” for saving energy in their private lives. He’s also launching a program that will give his customers price cuts if they sign up for wind energy. We asked him to share some wisdom he’s gleaned from trying to run the most environmentally sound (and still profitable!) food business in the country.
Maury Rubin has more on his mind than pretzel croissants. The chef-owner of bi-coastal branches of the City Bakery has become consumed of late with food miles, volatile organic compounds, and wax-lined coffee cups, those pernicious symbols of our disposable (but non-biodegradable) society. He has just opened the second outpost of Birdbath (code name: Sparrow), his pastry-shop side project that originated as a way to generate cash flow out of the front of his East Village commercial kitchen and has become, according to Rubin, “the greenest food business in the country.”
City Bakery's Maury Rubin employed CIA-worthy stealth tactics last winter to open Birdbath, his environmentally friendly, sustainably built organic bakery where the staff wears hemp and the walls are made from sunflower-seed husks. Now, though, with two new branches under way and more on the horizon, an expansionist-mode Rubin dispenses with the cloak-and-dagger routine. By January, he expects to open Birdbath No. 2 in a highly visible West Village location across McCarthy Square from Keith McNally's impending Morandi, at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Charles Street, and next fall, the third outpost should materialize at the megagreen Riverhouse luxury-condominium project in Battery Park City. Besides keeping Manhattan well supplied with oversize chocolate-chip cookies and raspberry bran muffins, Rubin aims to align the organic ingredients in his food with the renewable, ecofriendly construction materials used to build the stores where it's sold. Learn more at buildagreenbakery.com.
— Rob Patronite and Robin RaisfeldMystery Muffins [NYM]