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Imperial Garden
- Partner
Think Chinese food and the first words that pop into your head are likely to be takeout, chopsticks and, if you live in the Madison area, Imperial Garden. A perennial favorite since it first opened its doors in 1981, the 240-seat restaurant focuses on quality Chinese food at reasonable prices and is working hard to become a more environmentally conscious business.

"I'd describe it as a stepladder approach," said co-owner and general manager Karen Meyer. "Ken (co-owner Ken Yan) and I try to make commonsense choices that balance ambiance and customer satisfaction with financial responsibility and green business practices. We're working hard to take steps in the right direction."

One recent step was the decision to join Green Power Tomorrow, a choice that will save 75 tons of carbon dioxide and more than 50,000 pounds of coal each year. "We felt that supporting renewable energy was a very practical and affordable way to do our part," said Meyer.

Other steps include factoring energy efficiency into the purchase decision when a piece of equipment needs to be updated, recycling and using energy-efficient lighting in the kitchen. The restaurant also provides recyclable containers for carryout—a choice that makes a big difference at a Chinese restaurant!—opts for washable plastic chopsticks instead of disposable wooden ones and uses cloth linens. A recent upgrade to the dishwashing process helps minimize the use of harsh chemicals.

Although many of the ingredients for Imperial Garden's signature dishes aren't available locally and must be brought in from Chicago, the restaurant is careful to combine shopping trips and deliveries with its sister grocery store, the Asian Garden Market. Imperial Garden relies on local resources to provide mushrooms, meat and poultry products and finds that its suppliers are an excellent source for new ideas on running a sustainable business. "It's a topic that comes up in most of our conversations," said Meyer.

The restaurant is committed to minimizing its carbon footprint and is always on the lookout for better ways to do that. "We have to be conscious of the impact of every choice," said Meyer. "There's a growing sense of awareness in the restaurant industry, and businesses are working hard to make better choices. It's not always feasible to make the greenest choice, but it's important to keep taking steps in the right direction."
Thank you,
Imperial Garden
, for supporting Green Power Tomorrow.

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