Even when the Red Feather Lounge is closed, it’s a full house with 200,000 diners chowing down on choice bites of organic produce. But the patrons of this after-hours party are no ordinary foodies: they’re squirming red wiggler worms, turning the restaurant’s food waste into valuable compost.
FortWayne.com reports that the Red Feather Lounge and Bittercreek Ale House in Boise, Idaho, is the only restaurant in the continental U.S. known to use vermicomposting on-site. Restauranteur David Krick was motivated by a desire to eliminate all waste by 2012.
“We wanted to do onsite composting because it takes very little energy,” Krick told FortWayne.com. “But regular composting smells, because it's basically the chemical process of heating things up. And in a restaurant setting we knew that wasn't going to work.”
Downstairs in the basement is a 14-by-4 metal bin full of hungry worms capable of processing half of the 200 pounds of compostable food waste generated daily in his restaurant. The setup is working out so well that Krick plans to add another bin to handle 100 percent of his food scraps.
Though quickly reproducing creepy-crawlies in the basement of a restaurant might not sound good, Red Feather’s worms may turn out to be a draw. Krick hopes not only to sell buckets of his premium compost to customers, but also to offer starter kits so customers can take home some worms along with their doggie bags.