A Year Later, Cookery Can Finally Put Green into Practice

The Cookery restaurant in Fish Creek became Door County’s 15th Travel Green certified business in February 2008, and it seemed like the green possibilities were endless for this established business. The restaurant accumulated 61 points (31 more than required for Travel Green certification) and were hoping to put sustainability into practice in 2008.

“We were looking at many things, such as obtaining more local food vendors, composting, and figuring out how to better manage our waste,” says Courtney Holdmann-Skare, who co-owns the Cookery with her parents, Carol and Dick Skare.

Rendering of the new Cookery building, currently under construction.

But a May 9, 2008 fire destroyed most of the Cookery, and threw a wrench into those plans. Holdmann-Skare, who had urged her parents to pursue the Travel Green Wisconsin certification in the first place, knew they would have to rebuild even greener.

The first step was in the building’s design. The new two-story restaurant was designed by Madison-based Linville Architects, a firm noted for being progressive in sustainable building that has designed several restaurants in the Madison area.

During construction, Holdmann-Skare says they tried to keep a nice balance between incorporating sustainable practices and their bottom line for the cost of the rebuilding. “Whenever possible, we’ve tried to make the more sustainable choice,” she says.

All of the contractors, from the builders to the electricians to the interior decorators, were told that being green is the top priority. Many of the contractors have responded, finding fiberglass siding that is better for the environment, flooring made from old Wisconsin barn beams, and a special energy recovery ventilation system. A raingarden on the northeast side of the building will allow storm water to soak into the ground, cutting down on pollution of nearby waters.

Holdmann-Skare says that the Cookery recently received a $10,000 grant from the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence to assist with purchasing and installing energy-efficient equipment in the restaurant. In conjunction with the grant, the restaurant is planning to develop a training session and seminar on these appliances to others in the food service industry.

Once the Cookery reopens and the season gets underway, Holdmann-Skare says there will be more time put into other green practices, such as seeking out local food connections and compostable to-go containers.

“I’m really proud of all of the research we’ve done to make our new building greener,” Holdmann-Skare says. “We’ve been able to concentrate on the things that are important to us and still exist within our parameters.”