The Green Sage Coffee House and Cafe Opening

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The Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe

Posted on June 25, 2008 by Hanna Rachel Raskin

Ketchup is usually the least of a new restaurant owners’ worries. While a few chi-chi eateries might muss with house-made recipes, the vast majority of chefs are perfectly willing to buy a case of Heinz ketchup bottles and call it a day.

If only things were so simple for Randy Talley, co-owner with Al Kirshner of The Green Sage, the aggressively green-minded, counter-service coffee shop on Biltmore Avenue. The iconic tapered Heinz bottle, which graces tables in greasy spoons and snuggles into condiment trays at high-end steakhouses, posed an unpardonable affront to Talley’s anti-waste sensibilities. “There’s no bottled water here,” Talley says, motioning to the beverage case. “We have two bottles: a diet cola and a nonalcoholic beer.” And although he doesn’t say it, it’s obvious he’s jonesing to get rid of those.

“People know we’re not some greenwash,” adds Talley, who’s helped steer nearly every earth-friendly grocery of note in North Carolina, including Earth Fare, Greenlife and Weaver Street Market in Chapel Hill.

So what to do with the ketchup? Talley and his partners debated the possibilities, every one seemingly fraught with earthly threats. “Do we use a stainless steel ramekin and wash them?” Talley asks. “Do we use a plastic bottle, God forbid? The word ‘dilemma’ comes up here a lot.”

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