Located in the Forte Green area of Brooklyn, the Habana Outpost has put green technology to use in every facet. It is a splendid blend of technology, art, and education. The evolution of the restaurant has been a collaboration of ideas from visitors, environmentalists, employees, and owner, Sean Meenan.
Even if you are not interested in green technology, it is still worth stopping by for the Mexican-Cuban style food. The pinnacle of the menu is the roasted corn topped with Mexican cheeses. A testament to the popularity of their corn can be seen on busy nights when they have a separate line for corn and beer orders only.
Unlike some businesses that try to hide their solar panels from view, the Habana Outpost prominently displays their set of solar panels on an outdoor awning. Today, solar power is everywhere, but at the time it is was far less common. Sean mentioned that this was “New York’s first solar powered restaurant.” And the solar display is what sparked the collaboration of the community. Onlookers would be curiously drawn in by the large set of black panels and end up chatting with the friendly owner. Over time, fueled by Sean’s passion, it evolved into the green beacon it is today.
Everywhere you look there is some form of energy efficiency, recycling, or waste reduction. The large set of solar panels powers the entire restaurant. Rain water is collected by gutters and used to flush the toilets. The plates and napkins are made from recycled materials. The cups are made from corn instead of petroleum. Waste stations are clearly marked for segregating recyclable materials.
The most unique implementation of alternative power is the bicycle blender. “As you pedal it turns the blades,” said Sean. “It is fun for everyone to watch, kids or adults. It encapsulates what we are trying to do on the environmental side.”
The environmental message at Habana Outpost is beautifully delivered to any visitor through pictographs. The murals are enjoyable just to look at, but you can also look closer to see how solar works or how water is recycled to the toilets. There are little paintings all over (even in the bathroom stalls!).
The artwork throughout the place is another example of how Habana Outpost ties into the community. Many different artists have contributed to bring the whole restaurant together into a spectacular visual display. Not one spot has been overlooked. Even the barbed wire on the top of the courtyard fence has been painted green and decorated with plastic flowers.
You won’t hear any preaching or feel any guilt trips about environmental causes here. If you just want to get some food or a beer, that’s great. But if you want to learn more about Habana Outpost’s green efforts, there are plenty of opportunities. Between the pictographs, easy to see green systems, and kid’s activities, there is something everyone.
“We have what we call a kid’s corner every weekend to do arts and crafts. It has an environmental to blend to it. Some examples are a composting workshop, a lady bug release or making a Father’s Day present out of recycled material. I love kids. The kid’s corner, baby breakfast, and back to school event are all kid-centric. I don’t want to sound cliche, but they really are our future.”
Whether you live in New York City or you are just visiting, stop by the Habana Outpost. The great food, laid-back feel, and bright visuals draw locals and celebrities a like. And who knows, you may learn a thing or two about green technology.