Green Day Cafe, the self-described "eco-friendly fast food restaurant," has opened in downtown Orlando's North Quarter in the former Virgin Olive Market space. And it would appear that the many fans that VOM left behind have immediately taken to GDC.
Rather than turning the whole environmentally friendly scheme into a gimmick and hitting you over the head with it, Green Day Cafe quietly incorporates ecological initiatives into its daily routines. It strives to reduce its carbon footprint and to use less water, serve food in compostable or recycled materials, and to avoid using caustic chemicals.
And it extends to discouraging food waste. For example, on my lunch visit to the new restaurant, I ordered a dish that included a dill pickle spear. After informing me of this, the person who took my order asked, "Do you want it?" That's so much better than automatically plopping the pickle onto a plate of someone who dislikes pickles, only to have it tossed into the trash. It's a small step — the world is not facing a shortage of cucumbers and pickling spices — but every little bit helps.
And beyond the green theme, GDC offers simple but tasty food. On that lunch visit I ordered mushroom chicken & brie rice bowl, a wonderfully gloppy conglomeration of brown rice loaded with black beans, chicken chunks and the cafe's mushroom and brie soup. It was not the prettiest thing you'll ever have put in front of you — beige mushroom soup in a beige compostable bowl — but it was pretty tasty.
My bright green pickle spear added a bit of color. And because I had responded yes when asked if I wanted it, I felt I darn well had better eat it.
On a breakfast visit I had the Black Jack, again in a bowl (it's also available as a wrap). It featured eggs on top of black beans and beneath melted cheddar and jack cheese. Again, simple but tasty. And the fresh brewed coffee was hot and the free wifi was appreciated.
The young staff were friendly and welcoming. The decor is more brightly scrubbed and colorful than you might expect — there isn't a bit of jute or tree-hugger style tie-dyed wall hangings anywhere.
Green Day Cafe won't win any prizes for food presentation, but it deserves praise for doing good while serving good food.
Green Day Cafe is at 807 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily (opens at 10 a.m. Sundays). The phone number is 407-270-0772. There is another location at 1084 Lee Road, Orlando; 407-704-7877.