The flock of laying hens at the El Pinto Restaurant Farm is now certified as Animal Welfare Approved—making it the only restaurant in the nation to have a Certified AWA laying hen program on restaurant property, and the largest restaurant in North America to serve Certified AWA eggs. One of the family of leading farm certifications offered by A Greener World, the Certified AWA label lets consumers know animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada, using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm. Consumer Reports acknowledges Certified AWA as the only "highly meaningful" label for farm animal welfare, outdoor access and sustainability.
Owned and operated by twin brothers, John and Jim Thomas, El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque manages 200 Certified AWA laying hens outdoors on range, supplying the restaurant kitchen with fresh, nutritious eggs. Nicknamed "The Hen Hotel," the hens have continuous access to range, where they can perform natural behaviors like running, dust-bathing, pecking and scratching for grubs and seeds. Pasture- and range-based management not only provides the highest welfare conditions for the hens, but also produces healthier eggs containing three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the omega-3 fatty acids as industrial eggs. Eggs are gathered daily and thoroughly washed and graded according to USDA requirements, before being hand-delivered to the kitchen staff.
El Pinto Restaurant co-owner Jim Thomas says, "There is real lack of understanding in egg production standards, which confuses the consumer. Terms like ‘cage-free,’ ‘farm-raised,’ and even ‘free-range’ do nothing to ensure the welfare of the hens or the nutritional value of the eggs. Our passion is to provide clean and nutritious food for all of our guests. We chose to become Certified AWA to show customers that we really do care."
The award-winning El Pinto Restaurant has been a family business since 1962. From humble beginnings starting with 10 tables, the restaurant is now one of the largest in the nation with over 1,000 seats. El Pinto Restaurant has an impressive history, cooking for the White House, Air Force One, as well as top government officials and Hollywood stars. Local residents and tourists from around the country consistently vote El Pinto as "Best of the City" in numerous food and ambiance categories.
Certified AWA program director Andrew Gunther says, "It's no coincidence: High-welfare, sustainable farming equals great tasting food. We're excited to welcome the nationally recognized, award-winning El Pinto Restaurant in the Certified AWA family. While growing numbers of restaurants across the U.S. are choosing to serve Certified AWA ingredients, we have been particularly impressed by the El Pinto team's commitment to managing their own laying hens to ensure a regular supply of sustainably raised, tasty eggs. The Certified AWA logo demonstrates El Pinto Restaurant's high-welfare, sustainable farming practices. This is an exciting step toward greater transparency in the food system, including the restaurant industry."
Certified AWA eggs from the El Pinto Restaurant Farm, located behind the restaurant, are served daily on the restaurant's menu and featured extensively on the Sunday Brunch menu created by Executive Chef Marc Quiñones. A live streaming chicken cam broadcasts the hens enjoying life on the range to a TV in the front lobby of the restaurant.