One of 17 Alberta restaurants certified by Canadian non-profit organization, LEAF, or Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice, The Coup is taking the lead on sustainability. Located at 924 17th Ave. S.W., the vegetarian restaurant considers not only its plastic waste but also its food, water and energy waste.

Landing The CoupThe Coup was opened nearly 15 years ago by it’s two original owners, Dalia Kohen and Tabitha Archer. At the time, vegetarian restaurants weren’t abundant in the city, even downtown. Photo by Kaeliegh Allan

LEAF considers 10 areas of sustainability when certifying Canadian restaurants, ranking them with a points system.

The Coup is level-three-certified, the highest ranking possible.

Only four other restaurants have this certification in the country as of now – one of them being Calgary’s own River Café.

Katie Gallupe, The Coup’s general manager, says that nearly 15 years ago when the restaurant opened, “the two owners felt a serious lack of vegetarian options in a city that is so well known for Alberta beef.”

Restaurants acknowledged by LEAF undergo an extensive process of auditing, filling out applications and they typically have a few back-and-forth exchanges with the organization before they receive certification. The Coup gained most of its points for being completely vegetarian. They also exceeded standards by ensuring they hit all 10 sustainability categories.

Not only are the managerial staff concerned with upholding LEAF’s sustainability practices, but the kitchen and front of house staff as well.

“We have plenty of policies in place to ensure [we] are always being mindful of waste and energy use,” says Gallupe.

Sustainability: A trend or a business tactic?

It’s hard to know whether a business or restaurant is green or not – even when they claim to be.

“That’s the whole point of certification … how do you know a restaurant is really green or sustainable unless somebody’s gone in there and looked at the back of house,” says LEAF’s president Janine Windsor.

“Unless somebody’s going and looking at the invoices [and] looking at if they have energy efficient equipment, then you don’t really know.”

There are three benefits to being a LEAF certified restaurant – environmental, marketing, and cost-saving.

From an environmental standpoint, reducing waste reduces environmental footprint and in the end, this means less harm to the planet.

Certification also makes for easier marketing. Plastic Free YYC’s co-founder, Briana Loughlin, says restaurants want to be part of a “cultural movement that’s sweeping our world.”

More value is being placed on businesses that have reduced their waste.

“You’re really opening your doors to a whole segment of the population that really does care [about the environment],” says Loughlin.

Certification can also translate into cost savings.

Swapping out cheap plastics such as Styrofoam and replacing them with compostable materials is more expensive at first, but in the long run, pays off. For example, a restaurant can reduce the cost of buying disposable napkins by giving only one napkin to each customer instead of putting a stack of them in the middle of the table. Other ways to save money involve checking for leaks, monitoring the weather stripping, and auditing waste.

Loughlin believes that the time has come for entrepreneurs to take the plunge.

“It’s going to be the way of the future if you look at the way cities are going right now. So, my advice is to stay abreast with understanding your waste and understanding how to mitigate it.”

Editor: Aiesha Hinds |

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