The menu at Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen, 110 N. Main St., Crystal Lake, covers all of the bases while also branching out – much like the restaurant itself.
Where applicable, Duke’s lists the local farm whose ingredients help comprise a given dish, and it also denotes if a selection is vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free.
Some ingredients travel shorter distances than others, as the restaurant grows some of its own produce in an adjacent garden.
A three-star certified member of the Green Restaurant Association since 2012, Duke’s takes environmentally-friendly issues and endeavors seriously. No wonder many of its patrons are equally conscious about reducing their carbon footprint.
“I think people feel good about coming to eat here,” says Zak Dolezal, Duke’s Alehouse owner, general manager and chef. “I think they’re doing something positive by going out to eat – by supporting us, and supporting our local economy, and supporting the environment – as well as having a delicious meal and delicious beer. I think it’s extremely marketable, and I think we’re doing it for the right reasons.”
Dolezal embraced local sourcing from the time Duke’s opened in 2008, which – in turn – helped sprout a loyal following.
Visitors with dietary restrictions or food allergies knew that they could come to Duke’s to enjoy healthy ingredients. Once they became more acquainted with Dolezal and the staff, the same people began asking what the restaurant was doing to become “greener.”
Through the years, the answers have included installing LED lighting in 90 percent of the restaurant, providing a green laundry service for linens and implementing advanced composting and recycling measures.
“We do things like low-flow faucets and toilets to reduce water usage,” Dolezal says. “Our sprayers for all of our dishwashing equipment are low-flow. We use clean chemicals that have little to no negative impact on the environment. ... They’re just free of toxic chemicals.”
Duke’s also recently joined the Shedd Aquarium’s “Shedd the Straw” initiative to limit the use of plastic straws, which are bad for the marine environment. Although Dolezal acknowledges a resistance from a few customers, he counters with elementary reasoning.
“We feel that we’re doing it for the right reasons, and we don’t really feel that a straw is necessary for most of the drinks that we’re serving,” he says. “You definitely don’t need them in beer, being an alehouse, you know.”