Monticello restaurant, a business partner of Cool Davis Initiative, found out that investing in sustainability saved huge amounts on their PG&E bill and cemented strong relationships with the Davis and Yolo county community.

Monticello Seasonal Cuisine became a member of Cool Davis Initiative because they were passionate about its goals and because their own experience had shown how going green was beneficial financially and had created strong community links that made their day to day work rewarding.

Rhonda Gruska, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband Tony and farmer Jim Eldon, said, “We hope being members of the Cool Davis Initiative will help us get the word out: It is amazing to us that more restaurants don’t work harder to be energy efficient, as it really helps the bottom line. With our energy efficiency efforts, we reduced the PG&E cost to 25% of the previous restaurant that used Monticello’s space.”

Sustainability is at the core of Monticello Seasonal Cuisine’s mission. Rhonda explains that Monticello aims to “serve customers interesting and flavorful food they aren’t likely to make for themselves at home. Our menu showcases seasonal appropriateness, regional resources, freshness and has minimal interference between source and plate. We hope this farm to fork business will serve as a model reflecting the values and sustainable future of Yolo County and the region.”

And Monticello certainly walks its talk: For the renovation of the restaurant in 2011, they hired local businesses, recycled most all of the materials in the space that they could not use, used natural materials such as cork for the floors, and worked with PG&E on restaurant energy efficiency.  They insulated all outside walls and the roof, repaired holes and leaks in the walk-in cooler, used LEDs and low voltage fluorescents in the restaurant lighting, and bought a super energy and water efficient dishwasher.

They hire local employees and source almost everything they buy locally and regionally, including produce, meat, sustainable seafood, wine, and beer. They send all of their compostable waste to a local farm to feed chickens or for composting, reuse paper and plastic bread bags as garbage bags, provide compostable containers for take-out food and use cloth napkins and tablecloths.

Rhonda says community-building has been at the heart of this journey towards sustainability: “It has taken a village to build this restaurant.  We are very grateful to the many people who supported our sustainable concept and offered assistance at every turn.  We are grateful now in a position to give back to our community by purchasing local products and services, creating local jobs, etc.  It is all comes full circle, so to speak.”