San Francisco's Historic Cliff House Goes 100% Carbon Neutral

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Trend-setting Cliff House Restaurant commits to sustainability by further greening operations and becoming a "carbon-neutral" establishment.

For many a San Francisco restaurant, adding organic greens to the menu is about as environmentally friendly as it gets. At the Cliff House, however, their commitment to being green extends beyond the garden; last month, the historic establishment became "carbon-neutral" with the help of San Francisco based company Planktos.

The Cliff House offsets the approximately 1000-tons-per-year of carbon dioxide that its restaurants, Sutro's, and the Cliff House Bistro, create by paying Planktos ( to restore forests and boost plankton populations around the world, both of which take the Cliff House carbon dioxide out the atmosphere and turn it into revived living ecosystems. By this means every ton of CO2 the restaurant's energy consumption emits is removed, through photosynthesis in the trees and seas they help to revive. "This is our first year with Planktos and we are very proud to be working with them. Being here on the ocean's edge, we're constantly reminded of how important our environment is, and what we must do to take care of it, " says general manager Ralph Burgin. He hopes his work with Planktos will encourage others to do the same.

Burgin, who grows micro-arugula and over 30 varieties of organic heirloom tomatoes on an acre of land in Sonoma, uses this produce to help run an eco-friendly establishment. All menus, bottles, and cans are recycled, paper towels are unbleached, food waste is composted, and used oil is picked up for conversion into bio-fuel. Biodegradable cleaning products are used and, for a short time, they even used biodegradable garbage bags, which proved to be too costly. Now, they do even better: they use nothing and take the extra effort to rinse the bins each day. As a result of these combined efforts, Cliff House garbage has been reduced by about 80 percent.

The food in the restaurant is focused on local, and when possible, organic. "If it's organic but being shipped from 1000 miles away, we don't want to buy it," says Burgin. It just doesn't make a lot of sense, environmentally speaking, to truck products in from far away." He credits the owners - Dan and Mary Hountalas (who also happen to be his in-laws) with giving him the ability to focus on sustainability. He's also grateful to his team of managers who manage the recycling and composting. "Sometimes doing things this way costs a little more, but they support all of our efforts and encourage us to continue," Burgin says.

The Cliff House, originally built in 1863, has undergone three rebuilds and four major renovations, the last of which ended in 2004 with the debut of a new wing housing the two-story Sutro's restaurant which is best described as stylish casual, featuring California coastal cuisine. It is located at the western-most point of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, offering diners breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands as well as the entry to the Bay. Cliff House Bistro, located in the historical part of the building, offers classic San Francisco fare while overlooking the Beach and the ocean.

The Cliff House is open 7 days a week for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Sutro's restaurant accepts reservations, the Bistro is casual walk-in. Sunday Champagne Buffet is served in the Terrace Room and reservations are highly recommended.

For more information, please call 415-386-3330 or log on to The Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco. (Where Geary meets the Ocean).

For more info, contact:

Susie Biehler

Susie Biehler & CO


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