This week we’d like to highlight the amazing sustainability work being done Bob Desautels and his team at The Neighbourhood Group, based out of Guelph, Ontario. This network of restaurants includes the The Wooly, Borealis Grillehouse & Bar (locations in both Guelph and Kitchener), and Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro. The Group has been leading buzz-worthy innovations in restaurant sustainability for over three decades! Once again, Desautels was named Restaurateur of the Year by Ontario Restaurant News in 2016.
Bob has a long-standing passion for sustainability, which he began integrating into business through his first restaurant, La Maison, back in 1985 through a focus on local brews and food. He strongly believes in the power of myth and story for influencing our values. Bob’s own story is one that includes great food, community, and “operating as a force of good,” which has led to impressive achievements like their status as a B-Corp, which is a certification for companies which adhere to rigorous social and environmental standards.
In his chat with Lucy Cullen, terus CEO, Bob referenced some of the sustainability figures that have influenced his philosophy and business trajectory -- including David Suzuki, and Patagonia’s pioneering Yvon Chouinard. For himself, Bob said he is proudest of the fact that The Neighbourhood Group restaurants are 100% carbon neutral through the purchase of carbon offsets. As a true environmentalist, he was quick to acknowledge that he still thinks of this somewhat as “cheating,” and would like to move towards a more integrated approach, with a company such as Bullfrog Power.
Bob believes sustainability is fast becoming the norm and restaurants are likely going to be under increasing pressure to improve their business from both a social and environmental standpoint, especially with increasingly savvy customers and their use of social media. He has seen that sustainability is also very important to his restaurant staff and it's often a major reason for the restaurants' impressively low turnover rates.
Clearly, sustainability isn't just a phase for Desautels and The Neighbourhood Group. They have not only had long-term cost savings, and attracted and maintained loyal customers, but are continually and naturally integrating new practices that are based in compassion for people and the planet. The next time you're in Guelph or Kitchener, make sure you stop by one of their spots for something fresh, tasty, and local!