The Greening of Ceres Street

2/1/2009


By: Crystal Ward Kent
Date: Sunday, Feb 1, 2009
Publication: Taste of the Seacoast Magazine

Today, it seems that just about everyone is doing their best to reduce their carbon “footprint” and to be greener and more environmentally friendly, the new Portsmouth oasis, Two Ceres Street, was designed from the ground up to be green in every possible way. But older establishments are getting with the program, too, as you'll see in this article.—Ed.

The Greening of Ceres Street

There is a little green oasis at the corner of Ceres and Bow streets in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. No, it’s not a park, but a small restaurant that is ecologically “green” in nearly every aspect of its decor and products. Two Ceres Street is a charming bistro run by Marlisa Geroulo, a Boston pastry chef, and her husband, John Golumb, the owner of Poco’s Bow Street Cantina. According to Geroulo, the two made a commitment to design Two Ceres with green and sustainable products because that is how they live.

“We both drive hybrids, we shop the farmers’ markets, and we have a rain barrel at home,” she explains. “We try to carry this commitment over into other areas of our lives. Being ‘green’ is a lifestyle for us. It comes naturally, and it’s good for the community.”

The 300-year-old brick building that houses Two Ceres lends itself perfectly to the decor, which is done in earth tones and uses a wide variety of natural materials and textures. The soft brown floor feels like cork, but is actually made of 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. The bar top, which is one smooth, dark curve, is fabricated from PaperStone, a unique composite material resembling soapstone. Made from recycled cashew nut oils and water-based resins, PaperStone is nontoxic, stain-resistant, repairable, and can withstand extreme heat. “It’s made of the same materials used in high school chemistry labs,” notes Geroulo.

The front of the bar is created from kirei board, a panel product constructed from the stalks of the sorghum plant. After sorghum has been harvested for food, the left over stalks are pressed with a non-toxic adhesive to form the lightweight but strong, Kirei board.

When she learned that the 100-year-old barn door from nearby Moran Towing was being replaced, Geroulo asked if she could have it. Her carpenters then turned the wood into the new fireplace mantle and extra beams for the ceiling and such. Similarly, the stools and small end tables are created from a 100-year-old silver maple that came down in a storm. The seating is leather, and was selected for durability, as well as being a natural product.

Those walls that aren’t brick are painted a dark tan, using low VOC paint (paint with low volatile organic compounds), and the soft kiwi green and black rug is woven from 100 percent pure wool. Indeed, the color scheme plays off the fabric art over the mantel, which itself reuses other materials. Created by Lisa Grey, the art panel features silk squares which have been worked into designs and mounted on boards.

Geroulo thought of every detail when designing Two Ceres; the bistro uses low-voltage electricity inside, and solar lighting outside. The terrariums in the bay window are layers of mossy greens and blue stones, and they, like the nearby jade tree, require little water.

“Even our sign is recycled—in a manner of speaking,” laughs Geroulo. “The sign was already there with the name ‘Two Ceres World Industries’; it is nice bronze work, so we said ‘Let’s call the restaurant Two Ceres’ and just grind out the rest of it.”

Architect Lisa DeStefano, of DeStefano Associates in Ports-mouth, totally supported Geroulo’s desire to go green. “We made the best use of the existing bricks and beams, and installed mechanical and electrical systems that are energy efficient,” she says. “The use of cork, stone, and wood gives the place an organic feel. It’s cozy yet open and airy at the same time, thanks to the windows. And they have great mojitos!”

Two Ceres has an extensive appetizer menu, and the soon-to-debut entrée menu will highlight dishes from the slow food movement. The alcohol used in the cocktails is organic and low sulfur. Even the menu is in a cork binder and printed on recycled paper. Still, Geroulo isn’t done.

“I want to have a rain barrel outside,” she says. “We’ll use that water to water plants inside and out and for scrubbing things down. I’m also networking with local pig farmers to find out how to get scraps to them. Most of what I did here, I learned from magazines and the Internet, but I’m hoping to learn more. I’m taking a class in environmental management, and I’m hoping that what we do will have a ripple effect among other businesses and restaurants. I’m sure it will. Portsmouth is a great community that way, and I believe that people will get involved and work for change.”

No website yet, but call (603) 433-CERE for more information.

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