Do Some Good During Your Next Girls’ Night: Restaurants that Give Back
Sydney Hodgson | @SydneyLHodgson
The Denver restaurant scene is booming. Thanks to the population growth and evolving culture of the city, it seems like a new must-try spot opens up every week. Community is a huge focus for many restaurateurs in the area, creating the opportunity for us all to support local producers and organizations through the choices we make when we dine. Whether you are looking for a full fledged meal, a sweet treat, or a cool drink to sip on while you discuss toppling the patriarchy, do some good with your next girls’ night out. Take your crew to one of these local establishments and eat well while you support their efforts to do good.
Nearly everyone in town has been to the old fashioned milk jug shaped ice cream shop in the Highlands and tasted the company’s iconic salted oreo ice cream. In fact, it feels like most of the city is there waiting in line on sunny summer weekends. The details of the company’s Scoop for Scoop program is written on a large sign near the entrance, and while the sign often goes unnoticed, the company’s global social entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts should not. For every scoop the shop sells, it donates one cup of rice, beans or other essentials to a community in need. To date, Little Man has given back over $100,000 to local and international communities.
Sweet Cooie’s, Little Man’s new sister-shop in Congress Park, also participates in the Scoop for Scoop program. A portion of the earnings from every scoop of ice cream sold at Sweet Cooie’s goes to support women’s education here and around the world. In addition to the social initiatives, both shops consider the environment and buy and partner with local organizations whenever possible. As if we needed another reason to eat more ice cream!
You may have to wait two hours for a flight of pancakes from Snooze, but man are they good. Not only that, the restaurant recycles and composts more than 90% of its waste. They also work with farmers to create dishes with seasonal ingredients and farm raised, free range, and local food products. Next time you brave the wait, be sure to pair your favorite Benedict with a cup of organic coffee imported from Guatemala that week. The Denver-based chain even takes it one step farther, working with the local government to improve efficiency and teach employees about a different aspect of green living every month. Outside of their sustainability efforts, Snooze also gives one percent from every sale back to the community through food donations and services.
Duo is a creative farm-to-table restaurant in the Highlands that has quietly helped define and build the trendy neighborhood we know today. The partnership page on Duo’s website reads “we are only as strong as the raw ingredients that we begin with each day.” This mission drives the vision for the restaurant, which partners with dozens of local farms and organizations to bring ingredient-driven seasonal menus to the table. And they do it well. Duo is consistently rated in the top 100 farm-to-table restaurants in the country.
Duo is also a strong supporter of local non-profits, hosting six benefits and donating to over 90 organizations each year. These efforts focus on education and the agricultural movement, with pillars of neighborhood, environment, and women's issues.
Root Down’s menu is built off the freshest seasonal produce, and chances are, the vegetables on your plate may come from the restaurant's 4,000 square-foot garden. This garden supplies 20% of the restaurant’s seasonal vegetables. An additional 50% of produce is sourced from a network of local organic farms supporting over 55 Colorado-based ranchers, farmers, growers, and food artisans. Additionally, more than 80% of the restaurant’s waste is composted or recycled.
The unique LoHi location is a statement in itself. It is constructed from 75% upcycled, reused, and recycled materials and is powered entirely by wind energy, proving sustainability is not only incredibly cool, it can also help earn you a spot on the list of the best restaurants in town year after year.
It’s probably not too surprising a brewery known for its Sasquatch logo is one of the most sustainable in town. Great Divide’s philosophy is straightforward: “Let’s do our part for the environment and run our business responsibly while giving back to our local Denver community.” Among the long list of sustainable practices the company follows, they donate their spent grain to a local cattle farm, capture hot water for future use, and reserve 40% of the beer they produce for draft at taprooms and bars, thereby keeping their packaging to a minimum. Environmental concern goes into every step of the process. Great Divide also has close ties with the local community. One hundred percent of the proceeds from their taproom beer flights goes to their Community Outreach Program. In 2016, they raised $95,012.13 for 31 different local non-profits. Cheers to that.
Cover photo: Future broads enjoying a girls’ day at Sweet Cooie’s