We’ve been fans of Formaggio’s ‘Fungi pizza’ for quite some time, so we were delighted when Warren the owner of well-loved restaurants Formaggios and Tutto Bene became a client of ours. Beyond our shared love for pizza, we’re very inspired by Warren’s passion to contribute to a better world. It’s a heartfelt story worth sharing and we hope you will enjoy and be motivated by it.
Hi Warren. Can you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little bit about your background?
Hi Action Bicycle People. I am Warren, 59 years of age and afflicted with a passion for the plants and animals we share the earth with. I am the proud owner-driver of a red & green Radkutsche RAPID Cargobike from Action Bicycle Club
Tell us a bit about how you got into the (Italian) restaurant business.
I have dashed my way through life with different twists and turns along the way. Growing crops was the first big chapter with asparagus and apples and pumpkins keeping me occupied 365 days a year for all my late teens and through to thirty years of age. A big state change then and 25 years flying people about as a commercial pilot with my last and best job in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. How that led to helping to operate two great restaurants in Christchurch came as a surprise to me. Guess you never know where life is going to take you.
We note that you’re part of the Extinction Rebellion group. Could you please tell us why you decided to join?
Well I have always been a bit of a questioner of “what is really going on here”? I drove a truck for a couple of years. It was a nice job, delivering those big plastic water tanks to good people all over the South Island. I got to drive a lot, look, listen and think. What I was seeing was not good. NZ’s landscape was changing before my eyes, so to speak. So I got to enquiring what was going on with our natural habitats and I joined Forest & Bird and other groups. The more I learnt, and it wasn’t hard to learn, the more deeply concerned I became. Then I needed to try to do something beginning with myself. I quit the driving and set about being involved in forest restoration. We cut down traveling, used an electric car and started writing letters and campaigning, protests, stuff like that. Extinction Rebellion is making good progress teaching people and along with lots of other groups, particularly the School Kids and Greta Thunberg. Forest & Bird and Environment Defence Society are ways of communicating the serious challenge we have around environment.
You’ve recently purchased a Radkutsche RAPID cargobike, could you please share with us your experience with it and any thoughts you have about it.
Late last year (2018) I felt we needed to do more to reduce our EF. (Environmental Footprint). My day is spent supporting our restaurants (Formaggio’s in Beckenham & Tutto Bene in Merivale). What I do is very humble boring stuff. I pick up supplies and fix things and to do this I was driving around the city a lot. I got to thinking I needed to use the car less, I was thinking about the carless days of the 70s and that surely I could be carless at least 2 days a week (with a little more forward planning). Then I saw a guy on an electric cargo bike and it was the light bulb moment. I would undertake to be carless min 2 days per week and the money I would save would fund the bike.
Ken and Charlotte gave me a bike to try and I was hooked. I felt better, have awesome fun riding, get my work done much more effectively, see more people, talk to more people, save money and feel great that I have figured out another way to reduce my EF. Our restaurants will soon be certified as Carbon Neutral and the cargo bike is part of this too! And guess what I wasn’t carless 2 days a week, I am carless on average 6 days a week. I dropped the old car insurance to 3rd party and it lives mostly in the back of the garage.
Could you share with us how the recent developments in cycling infrastructure has affected your experience of riding a bicycle to get around?
Living in the Central City I have been intrigued as to how the roads are being changed with complex traffic signals, cycle lanes, cycle routes appearing. I am excited and captivated by the idea of a great 21st Century Liveable City. Part of getting the cargo bike was to experience this as a user and what a great thing it is. As an aside lots of people said it was all well and good in the summer but wait till grey cold winter. Ken said to me “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. I hardly ever buy clothes but with some money I have saved by leaving the car in the garage I have some awesome new bike gear to keep me toasty warm. Hat, gloves, jacket the works. Takes a little longer to get going in the morning but that’s OK, after all I’m an old B******.
Can you offer some words of encouragement to other NZ business owners to manage their businesses more ecologically?
Give it a go. You will discover all kinds of things to do and you get to think long and hard about legacy. Real legacy, leaving the world a better place, not just for your kids but for all we share our home with. Our Plants, our Animals our Landscapes, the Air we breathe, the Water we drink …
What is your top recommendations when we visit your restaurant?
We are very proud of Tutto Bene’s new Vegan Menu. It is a new addition, a dedicated Vegan Menu covering everything from Antipasti, Pizza, Pasta, Desserts, Beverages. I am enjoying the Crispy Potato Skins with Kalamata olive tapenade and tomato salsa as a starter then the Penne Ariabiatta basil, tomato & garlic sauce and chilli garnished with Angel Food plant-based ‘parmesan’. I get nightly requests to bring home “The Luciano” Pizza Ananda with vegan sausage, tapenade, fresh roma tomato, basil, chilli & cracked black pepper. Formaggio’s in Beckenham will very soon have a similar offering. Good for the soul good for our environment!
Thank you Ken & Charlotte and Action Bicycle Club for helping me on the journey.
Thank you, Warren!
Supporting local businesses like Warren’s that do good is just another way you can reduce your footprint. Find him and his red and green cargo bike at Tutto Bene in Merivale and Formaggios in Beckenham.