These days, people do a ton of little things to be environmentally friendly, such as carrying a canvas bag for groceries and buying a reusable plastic water bottle.
But at Ancolie, a teeny café and restaurant in Greenwich Village, everything—from the menu to the space itself—is designed with the environment in mind. Here, meals are served in only one form: a reusable glass jar.
“Our goal is to offer a sustainable alternative to the typical to-go restaurants,” Chloe Vichot, founder of Ancolie explains.
Vichot originally came up with the concept a couple of years ago, having always loved food and the restaurant world. She grew disinterested with her work on Wall Street and eventually switched careers, pursuing cooking and management courses. Vichot was most passionate about creating a place that tackled the intersection of restaurants and waste, all while providing a space for good, quick food.
“I was tired of the usual ready to-go meals that were available in the city,” Vichot says. “During a trip to Europe, I discovered glass jars for meals and I thought they were amazing.”
The squat jars are the optimal food container—better than the hip mason jar, because they’re large, heat-resistant and washable, and come with a much firmer lid. They’re wide enough that you can actually eat out of them without having to pour the contents onto a plate.
Vichot hadn’t really considered herself an environmentalist before opening Ancolie. Upon moving to New York from France, she saw firsthand the drastic differences between how waste and sustainability is handled in Europe compared to the United States. Even little things—like turning off the tap when brushing your teeth—she assumed had become normalized weren’t pervasive everywhere. In the States, a commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle simply wasn’t the default, and so Ancolie was born.
The menu features mostly a selection of cold jars, like the Ancolie Jar, which is layered with lentils, carrots, shallots, goat cheese, lettuce, and walnuts. Breakfasts and desserts (think chia pudding and chocolate cake) are offered and can all be found in the fridge up front. There’s also a rotating selection of soups and warm dishes, which in the past have included things like lasagne and beef short rib shepherd’s pie.
“Most of the recipes are family recipes,” Vichot says. “We use high-quality ingredients and put them in the spotlight without adding extra flavors or spices. It’s simple, healthy food.”
Although Ancolie encourages patrons to keep the jars for reuse at home, there are also incentives to bring them back for a $1 credit, and returning 10 results in a free meal. Diners will also get a $.50 discount if they bring their own coffee cup.
Vichot is quite pleased that patrons have been open to embracing this green lifestyle—especially since the jars are an added expense on Ancolie’s end. Most compostable vessels cost around 40 cents, whereas Ancolie’s custom-made jars ring in at $1. Despite the added cost, Vichot still works hard to make the restaurant as sustainable as possible. “We order everything in small quantities, produce in small batches, and try to use 100% of our ingredients. We compost all of our food scraps in a community garden in the East Village,” she says.
So far, people have been falling for the jars. After all, they’re certainly Instagrammable and, more importantly, an easy way to be eco-friendly.
“We are not looking to be pushy at Ancolie. We just want to show that you can actually make a difference with your everyday purchases,” Vichot says. “It’s easy to be part of the solution.”