Fire on the Mountain makes a sustainable impression in Highland
Fire on the Mountain came into Denver determined to make a difference. Owners Andrea West and Craig Oberlink followed the lead of the restaurant's three counterparts in Portland, Oregon, and decided to create their wing joint/bar with sustainability in mind. "We had this amazing opportunity to start as a blank slate with this restaurant," says West. "We really wanted to make sure we were starting green from the beginning."
Photos by Natalie Gonzalez Left to right: Andrea West (owner), Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, Craig Oberlink (owner), Janet Burgesser (program manager of Certifiably Green Denver)
They got help from Certifiably Green Denver, a city program that's worked with other progressive restaurants, including 1515 and Snooze. And yesterday, Fire on the Mountain introduced itself as the first sustainably-certified restaurant in the Highland at a happy hour at Fire on the Mountain.
"The event is designed to kick off a campaign with Councilwoman Shepherd, who's here, and the Denver Energy Challenge and Certifiably Green Denver," West said at the gathering. "Our goal is to try to create a sustainable district in west Highland. We want to show people what we've done here and show how easy and affordable and feasible it can be to undertake this certification, and how important it is as business-owners and as concerned consumers alike."
Table of resources available for local business owners.
Fire on the Mountain invited local business owners to the happy hour, as well as representatives from every level of their operation. She spoke highly of Aron Rosenthal from Waste Farmers, a company that's created a market for compost taken from all over Denver by making high-quality potting soil. She also gave a shout-out to the representative from Red Bird Chicken, which supplies the all-natural, free-range chicken breast and wings that Fire on the Mountain sells. On top of that, Janet Burgesser from Certifiably Green, Todd Bevington from Denver Energy Challenge and representatives of the Denver Department of Environmental Health and the Mile High Business Alliance were on hand all evening for other business owners to talk with.
During a break from the free food and local beer, Susan Shepherd, the area's representative on Denver City Council, commended Fire on the Mountain, describing its environmental consciousness as a "triple bottom line that is right for profit, right for the environment and right for the community," and one she hopes will spread across her district. "I'd like to get to a point where consumers are conscious of how they spend their money to go to businesses and restaurants who make this commitment," she said. She also noted that businesses can get up to $5,000 in rebates from the city for instituting sustainable practices.
Free fried goodness provided by Fire on the Mountain!
Fire on the Mountain was "very smart when they contacted me back in December when they bought the place," Burgesser said. "They did a complete renovation and started composting and recycling right from the beginning, so the staff was educated."
For those businesses interested in following Fire's lead, she offered some roadblocks to watch out for. "The toughest part of the certification is twofold, depending on the type of restaurant," Burgesser noted. "Small businesses in general have owners that are wearing five hats at a time, and it's hard to concentrate on these changes."