They didn't have any experience in the catering industry when they started lunchroom Logica in Leiden. But they did know what was missing when they dined out. Bianca van Went, who founded and owns Logica with her husband Bart van Leeuwen: `When we took our children out, the only kid’s choice on the menu was fatty fries. They didn't even enjoy them.´ The family were used to good, healthy, eco-friendly food. But where in Leiden was a place that served it?
When the opportunity arose, they started their business on the Stille Rijn. It quickly expanded into a lunchroom with dinner served three nights per week. No draftbeer, no Coke, no outdoor heating and, since recently, no meat either. What do they have? Sustainably caught fish, a one hundred percent organic kitchen and a small menu. And always a choice of two vegetarian starters and mains.
`With us, you might be out of luck,´ explains Van Went, `Sometimes a dish is sold out, then we apologize. Your choice is then reduced to what is left.´ In this way, they bring food waste at Logica to a minimum.
Free range meat
Two weeks ago, Van Went presented Logica's business approach at a meeting of Het Groene Ideecafé (Dutch for The Green Idea café) in Scheltema. The next speaker was Willemijke Pommerel, co-owner of Vlot Grand Café (the `glass boat´ in the Galgewater). Vlot has recently improved its sustainability considerably. Vlot has meat on the menu but it doesn't come from industry animals. The fish has been caught sustainably. The beer is locally brewed, the coffee is fairtrade. And Vlot also regularly sells a decisive `no´ when a dish has sold out. In Pommerels' experience, ‘As long as you're clear, the customer will accept it.’
Logica and Vlot also make many sustainable choices when it comes to managing their business. They made energy-efficient and water-efficient investments and make a special effort of complete waste separation and recycling, still an exception in the Leiden hospitality sector.
After the break, Govert-Jan de Vrieze, board member of Duurzame Horeca Leiden en omstreken (Sustainable Hospitality Leiden en surrounding areas), explained his foundation's two-track policy: raising awareness with the general public (through this website, for instance) and targeted projects for owners and cooks in the business.
After the presentations, a lively discussion ensued. There was enthusiasm about the frontrunners in Leiden, but also scepticism about the rate at which Leiden is converting to sustainability. Because, as Sjaak van Geijn, owner of the sustainable lunchroom De Tuin van de Smid, put it, ‘The popular wholesaler Sligro in Leiden hardly stocks any sustainable products.´ Others asked: `What part does the council play? Why is it that waste separation in Leiden's businesses has not been regulated yet?´
Accompanied by drinks, organic nuts and deepfried ‘oyster mushroomblocks’ (a sustainably and locally produced delicacy from urban farmer Leidse Grond), the gathering continued until well into the night.