Aspen Grille fails to renew sustainable restaurant certification

Cody Moore

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this article, The Collegian reported that The Aspen Grille “lost” the sustainability certification. The updated article clarifies that Aspen Grille chose to not renew the certification.

The Aspen Grille, CSU’s unique partnership between the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Division of Student Affairs, no longer holds a certification as a sustainable restaurant. Within the last two years, the classroom-restaurant did not complete the renewal process for the certification. The restaurant serves as a classroom for students in the Hospitality Management program.


In keeping with CSU’s sustainability mission, the Aspen Grille was the first university food service operation in the nation to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, a national non-profit focused on increasing sustainable practices in the food industry.

At the time of certification, the Grille was also only the second restaurant in Colorado to meet the association’s strict standards for water and energy usage, waste reduction, sustainable food products, and chemical and pollution output.

The eatery used conventional methods to reduce water and energy use. Gas grills were refitted to burn more efficiently, water reduction faucets were used in the kitchen and surfaces were cleaned with “green” products.

The Grille also employed more creative strategies to lessen environmental impact, including growing their own lettuce in on-campus greenhouses and transporting the products by bicycle and wagon. Menu boards were crafted from Colorado beetle-kill pine wood. Local beef, lamb, and poultry, as well as produce from Harvest Farms in Wellington, were prominently featured on the menu.

However, due to changes in management, the Grille no longer holds the sustainability certification, said Josh Olson, the current manager of the restaurant.

While the restaurant does not hold the certification any longer, many of the energy saving and waste reduction practices are still in use. Recycling still remains a top priority, as does the use of local, sustainable products.

Olson, the current manager and professor at Aspen Grille, said that the certification was not renewed mainly due to, “turnover in management and faculty.” 

Olson, says that their menus, “always take [the] sustainability of ingredients into consideration.”

Olson said that the restaurant is striving to be re-certified, and he hopes that the process is completed by the beginning of the 2016 fall semester.

Currently, only four Colorado restaurants are Certified Green Restaurants, including CU-Boulder’s C4C Dining center.


Collegian Reporter Cody Moore can be reached at or on Twitter @codymoorecsu