Blog : Making Sustainability Work at 900 Degrees

By John | Jul 6, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

Priscilla Lane-Rondeau grew up on what she calls a “gentleman’s farm” in New Ipswich. It was there that she says she learned firsthand about the importance of sustainability and locally-sourced agriculture – long before they became trendy concepts.

“We had five pigs, eight goats, and five lambs, different animals all the time. I learned so much even if I didn’t realize it at the time,” said Lane-Rondeau, the owner of 900 Degrees, the Neopolitan pizzerias in Manchester and Epping. She learned habits about keeping waste to a minimum and practicing conservation as a way of life.

Lane-Rondeau chose to go as green and sustainable as possible when she opened the first 900 Degrees in the Manchester Mill District in 2007. It’s an industry, according to the National Restaurant Association, that sees 60 percent of restaurants fail in the first few years due to small margins and shifting market trends. Choosing a green approach for a new restaurant was a risk but she had no doubt it was the smart route to take.

“Customers want this and tell me so every day. They are not only happy that we are so involved in our communities, but they want the freshly sourced ingredients that we use for all our meals,” she explained. “And you see it now in grocery stores with much larger organic sections than just a few years ago because customers are demanding it. Every time you go to a grocery store and put local, organic goods on the checkout counter or one of our customers eats a pizza or salad with ingredients from local farms, it’s a vote for sustainability.”

The approach has paid off in popularity and expansion to a second location in Epping in 2013. It has also led to widespread recognition for quality. 900 Degrees was an Editor’s Choice Winner on Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England and was nominated for Hospitality Business of the Year by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce. 900 Degrees also was the first restaurant in the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program to be named an Environmental Champion.

Lane-Rondeau regularly meets with a growing number of local and regional farmers who provide the freshest ingredients for the expanding menu of 900 Degrees. She is even happy to sing the praises of Grande Cheese Company, her Wisconsin cheese vendor. “Grande Cheese is very green and committed to wide scale sustainability,” she said.

For Lane-Rondeau, giving back to the community and going green was natural. “It’s not like I’m alone on this. Customers really do want it and come here because they know we are a green restaurant,” she explained.

The ever evolving green touches at the two restaurants have included LED lighting and motion sensors, locally-sourced ingredients, a comprehensive recycling program, low-VOC paints and seals, and water conservation.

“The less waste you have, the better you do. Add in the local and green components and you have a program that works,” she said.

900 Degrees is a green-certified Business Partner of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth organization which connects more than 100 regional green businesses with more than 4,000 green consumers.

Learn more about 900 Degrees at www.900degrees.com.
For more information on Green Alliance go to www.greenalliance.biz