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Eat @Joe's: New sustainable cafe opens to the public at UPenn

When the University of Pennsylvania launched its ambitious Climate Action Plan in September 2009, President Amy Gutmann spelled out the program's basic goals: First, reduce the university's carbon footprint. And second, enhance the school's overall environmental sustainability. Last month, a new retail cafe opened for business inside Penn's Wharton School that seems perfectly poised to attack both of those enterprising goals head-on.

Known as Joe's Cafe--it's named after Joseph Wharton, of course, the business school's founder--and located on the ground floor of Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, the ultra-green cafe is truly nothing less than a gleaming environmental-sustainability showpiece.

For starters, Joe's plans to either recycle or compost 50 percent of its waste, including food scraps, utensils and fryer oil. (Food waste goes to the Wilmington Organic Recycling Facility.) And what's more, the food and drink served at Joe's will be environmentally-gentle: The meat and dairy will be both hormone- and antibiotic-free. The beef will be vegetarian-fed. Even the fish will be sourced according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines. And thanks to the efforts of the sustainable food services company Bon Appetit, the remainder of the food at Joe's will be produced seasonally, and sourced within 150 miles of the school. Caffeine addicts will no doubt be pleased to learn that the Souderton, Bucks County-based One Village Coffee, a certified B Corporated, has created a special "Wharton Blend" for the cafe.

According to Laurie Cousart, the Sustainability Coordinator for Business Services at Penn, there will even be an ongoing educational program based on sustainable food practices taking place at the cafe. "It really engages students with other students about teaching sustainable behavior," Cousart says, "so we think [Joe's Cafe] will be a great forum for meetings and events."

Perhaps most telling of all, however, are the overwhelmingly positive reactions the new cafe has received from students, faculty and cafe employees alike. "The first day it was open," Cousart says, "people walked in and basically stood at the front door and said, 'Wow!' That was the most common reaction. It's just a beautiful space, filled with light."

Joe's Cafe is open Mondays through Fridays, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Source: Laurie Cousart, University of Pennsylvania
Writer: Dan Eldridge
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