WEC Alumni in the World - John Arana

Alumnus John Arana (FY MS ’96) had a vision: A Gainesville restaurant to serve quick, healthy, fresh organic food and smoothies. When the former Louis Lunch building on Southeast 2nd Street became available, John and his business partners seized the opportunity. Daily Green opened its doors in the summer of 2013, and it lives up to its name.

From plant-based cups, to-go boxes and even flooring to Energy Star appliances, the owners of Daily Green have strived to make every part of their operations as environmentally sound as possible. They continue to deal with waste responsibly, sending compostable items to a compost facility, recycling an estimated 60 percent of their waste stream, and sending food scraps to a local farm in return for fresh veggies.

John believes his background in studying wildlife contributed to his “previously standing viewpoints” on the importance of sustainability. “I don’t think there is any other way to go”, says John, who believes the restaurant business as a whole has not made enough progress towards reducing its impact on the environment. “If it’s not sustainable, it’s not good in the long run. ” John was advised by Dr. Susan Jacobson, who described him as a “great graduate student” who was “also a good cook.”

In the future, John hopes to add more sustainable practices to the business, as he is able. He would like to build a “green roof” - a roof where Daily Green could use the warm Florida climate to grow more products on-site and even recapture water.

“We try to create a unique space and a unique product, and I think we’ve achieved that”, says John. Customers agree - the restaurant continues to garner overwhelmingly positive reviews on Facebook and yelp.com. Are sustainable, organic restaurants the way of the future? Looking at the early success of Daily Green, it seems possible.