CounterEvolution Helps Restaurants Go Green

When Shake Shack opened last week, chances are you weren't paying attention to the table supporting your double stack Shack burger and strawberry shake.

But those tables are the eco-conscious handy work of Jim Malone, whose company CounterEvolution turns reclaimed bowling alley wood into modern furnishings.

Malone, a musician (and original director of the English version of Pokemon), founded CounterEvolution in 2007 after fashioning a counter for his New York apartment out of a hunk of old bowling alley wood.

"As our company name suggests, I thought I would be content solely making counter surfaces, but it was not long after starting the company that I began designing and building furniture that would further showcase the rich character of this rare wood," Malone says.

Today, he turns the rare heart pine from lanes that have long since seen their last strike into tables, counters and chairs.

The pieces are finished with earth-friendly stains, sealers and topcoats with zero or very low volatile organic compounds.

That green sensibility has attracted the attention of sustainability-minded restaurant owners. And Shake Shack is not the first DC restaurant to use Malone's ecofriendly furnishings.

Sweetgreen's multiple locations are outfitted with CounterEvolution tables and chairs.

"We had been searching for a unique reclaimed furniture artist to create one of a kind furniture made using reclaimed wood," says Sweetgreen co-founder Nicolas Jammet. "It was exciting to work with him on a number of our restaurants to design unique pieces for each space."

As you can now see right here in DC, Union Square Hospitality's Danny Meyer has outfitted his Shake Shack chain, the newest at 1216 Connecticut Ave., with Malone's creations. Redwood in Bethesda and Starbucks are also clients.

"Giving new life to reclaimed wood that has already served a community well in its first incarnation shows respect for our planet's limited natural resources," Malone says. "If that new life is thoughtfully designed and built to last for several generations, even better."