Skip navigation

Gonzalez: Being ‘green’ means doing the right things right

Alberto Gonzalez has put his money where his mouth is—literally. The former financier opened GustOrganics, an organic restaurant, in New York’s West Village, in January as part of a personal mission to help bring the organic, sustainable food movement to a broader audience.

Where did the idea for GustOrganics come from?

I’m from Argentina and was coming to New York a lot for business. It was tough to find good, quality food at affordable prices, so I always thought there was an opportunity there to open a place that was doing the right things right. In Argentina, most of the food is very fresh.

Why open an organic, eco-friendly restaurant?

I never owned a restaurant in my life; I was a business consultant doing change-management mergers and acquisitions. I guess you’d call a guy like me a change agent. People like change, but the problem is they don’t like to change. The amount of impact a restaurant has on the environment is huge. I decided I wanted to quit my profession, come to the United States and start this restaurant. I’m trying to prove that profits should be a consequence of doing things right. I came here with a vision to bring organics and sustainability to the mainstream. For me, this is a swim-or-sink situation. All I ever owned is invested in this restaurant.

You’ve said being green is sometimes profit-driven. Can you elaborate?

When I talk about [eco-friendly practices being] a profit-driven business, [I mean] everyone wants to do green or organic because everyone [else] is doing it. They see an opportunity to thrive, so they say whatever they have to say. It’s a trend; they’ll try to step in to make more money. But this [restaurant] is a different approach. Another thing is sometimes I see in the supermarket words like “natural” or “grass-fed” or “free-range,” and they mean nothing. No one is auditing that. I encourage anyone to just look for the USDA seal and support farmers for doing the right things right.

Why have food production methods changed so much?

We are used to [getting our food] so cheap we’ve killed off the good practices. Instead, we wind up in a situation where we’ve got the $3.99 value meal and not much else in between. We’ve gotten used to paying less for food and don’t even think about it. Good farmers doing the right thing 30 or 40 years ago switched [practices] in order to do things to support the $3.99 value meal. They were doing the right things, like organic farming, but they quit to do other things that were more productive. The reason why organic is so expensive is because it takes three to five years just to harvest again; it’s not so easy.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.