You might not expect a restaurant to change the way we think about waste and environmental responsibility, but one thing you need to know about Kitchen33 and Bakery is that they are here to defy expectations. Kitchen33 and Bakery’s parent company, American River Restoration (ARR), started in Virginia—a state that imported more than 5.3 million tons of out-of-state trash in 2021. In 2016, the rivers near Richmond, VA were bogged down by the amount of waste and invasive plant species that had infiltrated the area. Concerned community members started taking photos of polluted sections of the rivers and showing them to local politicians and organizations to see if they would help with a clean-up effort. Unfortunately, no one was ready to jump in and do it.
Left to figure it out on their own, these community members formed ARR in 2017 and began to clean up the rivers with a leaky 1951 Sears and Roebuck jon boat. They quickly realized that styrofoam was one of the most significant categories of waste they encountered during clean-up. Styrofoam is tough to recycle and doesn’t break down in nature. When animals mistake it for food, it makes them ill and often causes death. As for people, styrofoam food containers release styrene—a known carcinogen and neurotoxin—into hot, fatty or acidic foods. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that 100% of human fat tissue samples contain styrene. And what sector is the number one user of styrofoam products? Restaurants.
This is where Kitchen33 and Bakery comes in. ARR is focused on clean-up, awareness, litter prevention, and education. What better way to show restaurants the impact they can have on litter prevention and public health than by starting a restaurant that practices what ARR preaches? Kitchen33 and Bakery is a Glen Allen, VA 501c3 owned and run by ARR with the purpose of serving their community excellent food and showing that restaurants play a vital role in environmental responsibility.
Not only does Kitchen 33 and Bakery avoid all styrofoam and single-use plastics, but they also compost their paper waste onsite. This compost is then used as fertilizer for their onsite garden. They filter the air within the restaurant to avoid airborne pollutants while also filtering their water of all pollutants and microplastics. In addition to focusing on their customers’ health, Kitchen33 and Bakery has also made it their goal to be a positive member of their community. When they have food left over at the end of the day, it is donated to families and individuals in need. Their commitment to environmental responsibility and their passion for the people they serve is why Kitchen33 and Bakery was chosen as Pie’s 2022 Upper Crust Awards grand prize winner.
Pie is honored to be a small part of providing support to small businesses like Kitchen33 and Bakery. Their parent company, ARR is continuing to implement new ways to clean up and create awareness around pollution with Kitchen33 and Bakery supporting their efforts every step of the way. Their impact now reaches from Virginia to New Jersey, and Texas to Colorado. Since their inception in 2017, they’ve collected more than 700,000 pounds of trash with a goal to reach one million pounds in 2023. Stay tuned to see what amazing things Kitchen33 and Bakery and American River Restoration do in the future.