Green Biz Spotlight: The Little Engine That Does!

To Bob Wright, co-owner of Buckeye Beer Engine, being “green” is simply the right thing to do. As long as the Beer Engine has been open (13 years, the last three of which have been in Lakewood), the restaurant/brewery has focused on behaving in a socially responsible way. Since the beginning, local farmers have picked up spent grain to feed their cows or to use as compost for crops. As per Bob, “It makes the best compost…so full of nutrients.”

The restaurant recycles all cardboard, plastic, and bottles. This is more difficult than it seems, because all of the items must be stored on premise until City trash pick-up days. Costly in terms of labor and the clear plastic bags required for the recyclables, the expense may be offset in terms of fewer pickups for their trash (for which they must pay a private company). Either way, Bob considers recycling non-negotiable.

Earlier this year, bike racks were installed in front of the restaurant. Not only do the racks promote alternative transportation (bike riders are given a discount in the restaurant), but the racks themselves are made from recycled materials: stainless steel from the brewery!

As much as possible, Bob does business with local suppliers. He would love to do more locally, especially in terms of the breads they use in the restaurant, however finding someone who can handle their volume has been a challenge. He is big on collaboration as well, and is currently working on producing a specialty beer for The Greenhouse Tavern in downtown Cleveland.

So, what’s next on the sustainability front? Bob stays on top of what’s happening locally in terms of alternative energy sources. He referenced converting hops to ethyl alcohol as well as what’s happening in terms of solar and wind energy. Obviously a man who does his homework, he is also keeping an eye on a brewery out of Cincinnati that is using a non-toxic cold water cleaner for their equipment.

“We couldn’t be happier with how we have been received by this community,” Bob concludes, adding that he wants to do more on the charitable giving front for that very reason. In a previous article that I wrote for this paper, I talked about the “Triple Bottom Line” (people, planet, profit) concept. My conclusion: The Buckeye Beer Engine is hitting on all cylinders.

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Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 8:48 AM, 12.02.2009