The Hooked-on Group’s family of restaurants is fully committed to operating in a sustainable way.
We source our produce as locally as possible and aim for high welfare and sustainability standards. We strive to reduce our environmental impact, always endeavour to fulfil our social responsibilities and provide healthy and sustainable food to our customers.
We recognise it is our responsibility to encourage our suppliers and contractors to minimise any negative environmental and social effects associated with the products and services they provide.
We joined the Green Tourism Business Scheme in 2007 and then went on to become a (North East founding) member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2010. In line with the broad focus areas of the SRA we have looked to improve our overall sustainability not just in the food that we purchase but also our environmental impact and social engagement as well.
In 2012 we achieved the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Three-Star Sustainability Champion Status (see www.thesra.org).
Our aim is to continually increase our commitment to sustainability and communicate to our staff, customers and suppliers our commitment to sustainable food, minimising environmental impact and increasing social engagement.
To allow us to meet our aims we try to provide food that is nutritious and contributes to a healthy diet. We aim to raise staff, customers and supplier awareness of the environmental and social benefits effects of a sustainable diet via promotion and product information.
We aim to constantly monitor our energy and waste policies and seek to limit our environmental impact. We support the communities we engage with, including customers, employees, the local community and the institutions that support them.
We examine this Sustainable Policy annually, amend targets and communicate findings (including progress and gaps) to staff, customers and suppliers and compile annual targets in order to monitor progress. We monitor our progress in regard to three key areas: sourcing, environment and society.
Our current plans are as follows:
Local & Seasonal
We change our menus at least five times per year to reflect food that is in season and continue to source as much local produce as possible – primarily within Tyne & Wear, Durham, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Cumbria as well as Southern Scotland.
We are virtually self-sufficient in herbs which we grow outside the kitchen doors. We harvest our own cherries and walnuts and have our own Staff Allotment open to all staff.
In the future we hope to grow more produce in and around the restaurants outside or inside using artificial light and aquaponic systems if required, appropriate and safe to use.
We also encourage chefs and front of house staff to go out foraging for wild garlic, elder flowers, blackberries, mushrooms and other edible produce, and also make preserves, pickles and chutneys etc to make the most of seasonal produce and local bounty.
Our beef and lamb is all locally sourced, as is most of our venison, rabbits and game birds whilst our fish is either straight from the North Sea or direct from Scotland
Examples of our favourite suppliers include: Doddington Dairy; Northumberland Cheese; Robson’s Chainbridge Honey Farm; Gilchesters Organic Flour; Yellow Fields Rapeseed Oil; Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes; Heatherslaw Mill, Ken Holland’s North County Organics; Swallow Fish/Robson & Son’s Smokers; and Sunny Hill Eggs as well as various foragers.
Throughout the year we take our staff on visits to these food producers as well North Shields Fish market, our suppliers of fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.
However, we can’t source everything locally and recognise the need to import wine, coffee, chocolate and olive oil, as well as citrus and other fruit and vegetables. We will also buy rabbits, pigeons and other items from France if we think they’re better than their British counterparts.
We try to use as much bi-product as possible including: lemon/lime zest (as well as the juice), egg whites (as well as the yolks), fruit and veg peelings to make garnishes and vinegars; over-ripe fruit and veg for chutneys; dried-up herbs for herb butter; left-over bread for breadcrumbs; dried rind from goats cheese logs for seasoning; fish heads and bones from mackerel and other fish for fish sauce; and fish/meat trim, potato peelings and anything else to make staff lunches.
Environmentally Positive Farming
As well as various supplier visits, we also aim to take our staff on visits to ecological farms; source some of our produce from an ecologically certified producer (e.g. Soil Association, LEAF Marque, Rainforest Alliance) and deal directly with farmers or primary producers.
We also source organic and biodynamic wine, beer and cider and rare-breeds varieties.
We hope to take part in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or similar schemes and use an SRA-approved sustainability agreement with some of our suppliers.
Ethical Meat & Dairy
Most of the eggs and meat used at our restaurants is free range or RSPCA Freedom Food certified. The milk we use is organic.
All the fish we serve is either straight from the North Sea or from Scotland. We have never served tuna or other exotic species from half way around the world. Most years we take our staff to the fish market at North Shields and actively engage them in seafood sustainability.
We aim to source all of our fish from known sustainable sources using information supplied by the Marine Conservation Society. In the future we hope to obtain MSC Chain of Custody Certification and write and implement a Sustainable Fish Sourcing Policy.
We only serve Fairtrade tea, sugar and coffee.
We have systems for packaging take-back and reuse with at least 50% of our suppliers including drink, fish, meat, and fruit and veg suppliers. We help our suppliers make their deliveries more sustainable by ensuring they only deliver to us once a day and encouraging use of ‘green’ transport. We avoid air-freighted goods in preference to those imported by ship or rail.
We have always understood our energy usage, by regularly and accurately measuring our consumption with the aim of reducing our energy consumption. We audit our lighting and have swopped to low-energy bulbs and LED’s where possible as well as adopting a stricter ‘switch the light/hob/appliance off’ policy. We run a staff training session on energy efficiency and staff practices to reduce energy consumption.
We use renewable/green energy tariff where possible; fit electricity or gas submeters to monitor kitchen energy use and set targets for reduction; develop a Climate Change Strategy and accurately measure and reduce our carbon footprint.
We avoid selling bottled mineral water in preference to our tap water filtration system used for our chilled still and sparkling water. We constantly review water use in an effort to reducing water consumption and have written and implemented a Water Saving Policy and conduct staff training on efficient water use practices.
Glass, plastics, paper and cardboard are all separated out for separate recycling collection.
We separate our food waste for either composting or anaerobic digestion. We have used an in-house Jura Composters and Scotty Hot Boxes in the past with the resulting compost being used in our half barrels used to grow herbs for the restaurant. We hope to compost more in the future. Most of our packaging is collected by its respective supplier.
We have developed a Waste Reduction Policy and train staff on waste reduction practices; and encourage customers to take away their unfinished meals.
We constantly assess our disposable catering items and reduce purchasing disposable items.
We have a commitment to buying recycled or FSC certified paper and paper products. All print material uses recycled paper stock. We use environmentally friendly cleaning products which arrive as very high concentrates to minimise transport costs.
In the future we plan to recycle our ink cartridges, reduce paper-based products, source only sustainable materials (e.g. FSC certified wooden furniture) and use environmentally friendly products (e.g. low VOC paint).
We accommodate food allergies and offer and promote our vegetarian and vegan options.
We support Streetsmart which raises thousands of pounds for homeless charities as well as Restaurants Against Hunger which was launched in 1998 by Action Against Hunger.
Adopt-a-school is run by the Academy of Culinary Arts which aims to get food, food provenance, cooking and nutrition back on the school agenda. Over the years we have adopted several schools in the region including Westerhope Primary School, Harlow Green Juniors and South Gosforth First School. Our chefs run workshops with the children teaching them basic cooking skills, where food comes from, how to shop and how to use their taste-buds.
We also take part in the ‘Let’s get Cooking’ scheme which promotes healthy eating in schools.
We have actively helped and supported a number of Charities over the years including the RNLI and Percy Hedley Foundation as well as:
St Oswald’s Hospice for which over £1,000 was raised in 2009
Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund for which over £1,200 was raised in 2010
Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for which over £700 was raised in 2011
Marie Curie for which £1,000 was raised in 2012
Since 2013 we have actively supported and raised funds for Fareshare North East, a franchisee of Fareshare UK and a subsidiary of Changing Lives. One of our directors sits on the Board of Fareshare North East for whom we provide support and accommodation, and raise money through initiatives such as our annual Fareshare Banquet which raised £1,000 in 2013 and £4,000 in 2016.
We consider all charitable causes though tend to support those closer to home and particularly those involving children.
Treating Staff Fairly
We have always provided staff with at least one healthy meal per day. We ensure our tipping policy is clear and transparent and understood by staff, and is available to our customers. Our tipping policy stipulates that 100% of tips go to the staff who agree how the money is distributed. We pay for the credit card commission and accountancy costs of the tronc/tips.
We also offer additional staff benefits such as participation in the Cycle to Work Scheme, staff pensions and staff development training and mentoring. We encourage staff feedback with management support for positive change of staff conditions.
We raise customer awareness about our approach to sustainability through our website, our e-newsletters and general printed material, and include a system for customer feedback through our business reply cards.
We publicise sustainable transport options so diners can reach our restaurant through public transport, walking and cycling. We try to educate our customers on sustainability issues through our Food Producers Map.