900 Degrees makes sustainability work

Organic ingredients result in recognition for quality at pizzeria

Priscilla Lane-Rondeau grew up on what she calls a “gentleman’s farm” in New Ipswich. It was there that she says she learned firsthand about the importance of sustainability and locally sourced agriculture – long before they became trendy concepts.

“We had five pigs, eight goats and five lambs – different animals all the time. I learned so much even if I didn’t realize it at the time,” said Lane-Rondeau, owner of 900 Degrees, the Neapolitan pizzerias in Manchester and Epping. 

She says she learned habits about keeping waste to a minimum and practicing conservation as a way of life, and chose to go as green and sustainable as possible when she opened the first 900 Degrees in the Manchester Millyard in 2007.

“Customers want this and tell me so every day. They are not only happy that we are so involved in our communities, but they want the freshly sourced ingredients that we use for all our meals,” she said. “And you see it now in grocery stores with much larger organic sections than just a few years ago because customers are demanding it. Every time you go to a grocery store and put local, organic goods on the checkout counter or one of our customers eats a pizza or salad with ingredients from local farms, it’s a vote for sustainability.”

The approach has paid off, with expansion to a second location in Epping in 2013. It has also led to widespread recognition for quality. 900 Degrees was an Editor’s Choice winner in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England and was nominated for Hospitality Business of the Year by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce. It also was the first restaurant in the New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging and Restaurant Program to be named an Environmental Champion. 

Lane-Rondeau regularly meets with a growing number of local and regional farmers who provide the freshest ingredients for the expanding menu of 900 Degrees. She is even happy to sing the praises of Grande Cheese Company, her Wisconsin cheese vendor. “Grande Cheese is very green and committed to wide-scale sustainability,” she said.

The ever-evolving green touches at the two restaurants include LED lighting and motion sensors, locally-sourced ingredients, a comprehensive recycling program, low-VOC paints and seals and a water conservation program.

“The less waste you have, the better you do. Add in the local and green components and you have a program that works,” she said.

NHBR’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship series is run in partnership with the Green Alliance. To learn more about the alliance, visit greenalliance.biz. 

Categories: Sustainable Entrepreneurship