Gabby’s Café is a institution. It’s where folks go for burgers and fries, and marinara like mama used to make. It’s normally a popular gathering place for families and friends; however, with the current statewide restaurant shutdown for dining-in, a flood of Wyoming residents have been ordering takeout and paying by phone instead. To maintain the required social distancing, they then pick up orders curbside as staff delivers to the car when patrons call after they arrive.

Even with all the disruption to normal operating routines, Gabby’s has not been distracted from the big picture and its core values in trying to contribute to sustainable, earth-friendly business practices.

During this period of slower-paced living, people have time to notice the little things, and some grabbing takeout from Gabby’s have noticed the restaurant made the switch from Styrofoam to compostable containers (five months ago). Overall, the more sustainable options have been easy switches, notes Dino DiStasi, Gabby’s owner, and “It just feels so good to do it,” he adds.

It’s part of a broader effort from Gabby’s to reduce the restaurant’s environmental footprint. Andrea DiStasi was among the dozens of Wyoming residents who volunteered to help build one of the community’s pilot compost bins. Ever since a training with county officials, Gabby’s kitchen has been composting kitchen scraps. (Tela Bar + Kitchen and Wyoming Coffee are also part of the program.)

“It always bothered me, having to throw things away,” says Andrea, DiStasi’s daughter and Gabby’s manager. “In this business, you can have a lot of waste, because volumes are so high.” At a time of shortages, when many are sensitive to how much they have and use, Gabby’s has also been working to limit .

Since the program began, Gabby’s has been composting enough food scraps that the restaurant has cut its waste pickup in half, saving about $100 a month. “It feels so good to be doing it,” says DiStasi, “because the earth you’re walking on, you’re producing that again and again.”

And considering the Earth, Gabby’s sources as much locally as it can. Ohio-raised Wagyu steaks come from the Wyoming Meat Market. Gabby’s partners with Gorman Farms, using their basil and organically-raised chicken. Many vegetables come from 80 Acres, a nearby, pesticide-free hydroponic farm. “It’s all right here, so you don’t waste a lot of fuel,” says Dino, who spent years in his early career working in the produce business.

It’s about supporting local farmers and businesses, but according to DiStasi, it’s also because local food is fresher and simply tastes better.

Gabby’s was in the process of transitioning away from automatically giving diners plastic straws and instead making them available optionally when the state closed restaurant dining-in. Months ago, Gabby’s stopped automatically giving utensils with carryout as well, to reduce inadvertent waste.

“Gabby’s Café shows how small changes in every day practices can cumulatively make a business more sustainable,” says Council Member Sarah Stankorb, who notes how eagerly Gabby’s has embraced many citywide environmental efforts in recent years.

“But above all, right now, we have a chance to thank Gabby’s for caring about our community and planet by showing up for them, grabbing some comfort food or buying a gift card, and helping sustain one of our favorite restaurants too.”

And DiStasi says he feels grateful for how the residents of Wyoming have been there for him in this extraordinary time of uncertainty. The community support through this time of social distancing has been amazing, “and we really appreciate it,” he says.

It’s an extra step, being environmentally-minded while also following protocols to get food out the door safely to our neighbors, but at a time when many are spending a lot of time home with their families—and missing the comradery of a community gathering spot—all that extra care says a lot about Gabby’s, adds Stankorb.


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