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Grand Rapids-based restaurant company gets certification for positive social impact

Mar 2, 2016

Lauren Jaenicke, Director of Marketing and Sustainability for the Essence Restaurant Group in Grand Rapids.
Credit Steph Harding / Steph Harding Photo

There's a difference between making your business the best in the world and making it the best for the world.

Recognizing that difference is what has earned the Grand Rapids-based Essence Restaurant Group a B Corp certification.

This certification is what USDA Organic is to milk, or Fair Trade is to coffee. The designation goes to companies that show a commitment to sustainability and positive social impact in their communities. 

The Essence Restaurant Group has become the very first restaurant group in the country to earn the B Corp certification.

“By a third-party verification, it’s really giving us the credibility to say not only are we saying that we are doing these things, we are actually doing them and putting policies in place to continue to improve as well,” said Lauren Jaenicke, director of marketing and sustainability for the Essence Restaurant Group.

There are performance measurements that the certifier, B-Labs, applies. Those include environment, workers, customers, community, and governance. A business needs at least a score of 80 and Essence got 89.

“These are ultimately values that exist in the organization but exist for a lot of us at a more personal level too," said Jaenicke.

The Essence Restaurant Group in Grand Rapids operates Bistro Bella Vita, The Green Well Gastro Pub, and Grove.