by Nancy Rae Mallery, 1.11.12
In downtown Rutland at 51 Wales Street, a uniquely sustainable restaurant opened it’s doors to the public on February 1, 2011. The concept for a place to enjoy a delicious, wholesome local meal, made from the freshest Vermont products, came into being nearly one year before it’s official opening. It all began from a conversation in Dr. Mark Logan’s office with Chef/owner, Donald Billings who said: “I thought, somebody’s got to do it!” They became partners, and ‘do it’ they did!
In days gone by, ‘Clems’ once occupied this location. The building is conveniently owned by Earth Waste Systems, whose offices are on the 2nd floor – an excellent beginning for their sustainable ideas!
Starting from a bare empty building, without even a kitchen, and almost $90,000 spent locally, It seems that nary a stone was left unturned:
- The Bar top was made with 40% recycled glass by Naylor & Breen of Barndon, VT, who also made the tables and even the wooden plates that impart ambience to your dining experience. The bar is underlit with efficient lighting.
- Energy efficient lights were installed, not only in the dining area but also in the kitchen and downstairs where some preparations are made. These include a combination of LED’s and energy efficient fluorescent bulbs.
- Energy efficient appliances like the dishwasher help to keep their efficiency and carbon footprint to a minimum.
- To Go containers are eco-friendly and compostable.
- The kitchen waste is composted by a local farm that also supplies the restaurant with fresh produce.
- Their used frying oil is used locally for Biodiesel fuel.The Ladie’s Bathroom includes a Dyson Hand Dryer that eliminates paper towel waste.
- They proudly partner with local providers: Boardman Hill Farm, Hathaway Farm, Radical Roots Farm, Thomas Dairy, Woods Market Garden, Misty Knoll Farm, Brown Boar Farm, Neshobe Emu Farm, Ayers Egg Farm, Laurel Hill Enterprises, Stonewood Farm, Grafton Cheese Company, Blue Ledge Farm, Flag Hill Farm and Long Trail Brewing .
- An interesting handle adorns the Long Trail Beer Tap. It is an actual ‘ROOT’ that came from a farm in Cuttingsville, VT that was completely destroyed when hurricane Irene devastated so much in this section of Vermont this year. Fifty cents from every pint sold is donated to the farm to help them recover from all that was lost. Other extras include Organic and sustainable wine from MontCalm Winery, who own property and spend a lot of time in VT, as well as other local vineyards. You can even order Brandy that is made by a Solar Powered Organic Farm in Vershire, Vermont made Green Mountain Gin and Vodka, or Emu from Neshobe Emu Farm.
Donald Billings grew up at the Wayberry Inn in East Middlebury, VT. The Bob Newhart show was based around this Inn! He is not new to the restaurant business, consequently and also worked for a period of time in Manhattan for a very high end restaurant, as well as at ‘Cattails’ in Brandon, Vt.
They not only offer Vegan and gluten-free options on the menu or when catered, but assure your dining experience to be free of allergens and cross-contamination in the kitchen. Everything is made on site, so they know every ingredient. The wait staff is extensively trained about the food and drink before they are ready to take tables.
Roots the Restaurant goes beyond their own establishment with their generous donations to the Paramount or when Chef Billings cooks meals for the Halfway House, and with their belief in the benefits of supporting Local to the fullest! Governor Shumlin frequents the restaurant and freely raves about his experience there. If you see him there – ask him what his favorite meal is!
The more I listened to Chef-Owner, Donald Billings, the more I realized how much he truly ‘g.e.t.s’ it!