Parkhurst Dining services has opened one of Pittsburgh’s first green dining venues constructed from eco-friendly products from the ground up for client PNC at the Allegheny Center Mall, a corporate center where PNC is a tenant. The eatery, the Eco Bistro, is PNC's onsite dining operation, but is also open to other Allegheny Mall tenants and guests. It is also designed as a sustainable café for all PNC cafes to model after.
One of over a hundred PNC constructed facilities that follows LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Development) principles, Eco Bistro features bamboo walls, a more sustainable product than wood, which grows quickly without herbicides or pesticides and releases 35% more oxygen into the air. Also, the green glass tile walls are made from recycled 100% pre-and post-consumer waste, and the flooring is constructed from linoleum, comprised of organic materials. The natural quartz and glass counter tops made from 85% recycled bottles, entertaining guests when they try to identify the lettering from a bottle label embedded in the counter. Even staff uniforms are recycled: the shirts are made from recycled 58% recycled polyester and 42% bamboo charcoal polyester. (Parkhurst and PNC are in the process of securing official LEED certification)
Eco Bistro follows Parkhurst’s EcoSteps program to reduce the company's environmental footprint. EcoSteps practices include purchasing rBST-free dairy, using biodegradable service ware, reducing paper waste, recycling fryer oil into bio-fuel, utilizing more energy-efficient light bulbs and composting.
Much of the bistro's fresh food needs are procured through Parkhurst’s FarmSouce local purchasing program. The fresh selections complement assorted trendy sandwiches, soups, salads and hand-pressed burgers prepared by Executive Chef David Harris. There is also a variety of Italian selections such as hand-tossed pizza, Stromboli, breadsticks and savory flatbreads, all made with dough prepared from scratch. Dessert selections include assorted pies, cakes, muffins, strudels, brownies and the famous Smiley cookies from Parkhurst corporate parent Eat 'n Park.
“We try to mix it up daily by providing our guests with something different whether it’s freshly baked Tuscan breads topped with buffalo chicken or feta, tomato and Kalamata olives, a Tex-Mex bar, or celebrating Oktoberfest with German sausage sandwiches and Bavarian-style soft pretzels,” says Stephanie Knaus, Parkhurst's director of dining services. “We will soon expand retail offerings to include some of our menu items as home-meal replacements packaged in microwavable containers so that guests can purchase to eat later at home,” she adds.
In addition to made-from-scratch foods, Eco Bistro offers HIP (Healthy Interruption Points) selections, pre-packaged three-ounce to-go snacks that offer a healthy alternative to impulse purchases such as cookies and candy. HIP selections include assorted nuts, granola, dried fruit, tropical trail mix, as well as fat-free sweets such as licorice and gummies which are positioned near the register so guests are more likely to purchase a healthier snack when they need an “interruption” during the day.
While most of the food is to go, the Eco Bistro seats 140 guests and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.