Home » Cathy Morelli | Saving The Environment One Cup At A Time | Recap

Cathy Morelli | Saving The Environment One Cup At A Time | Recap

Cathy Morelli and her husband Jerry are the dynamic duo behind Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli.

by Nolan Hawk

Cathy Morelli and her husband Jerry are the dynamic duo behind Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli, a hidden gem in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. 

While renowned for their delectable Italian subs and irresistibly sweet Italian ice, what most people don’t realize is the significant role they play in protecting the environment on a national scale.

A Brief History Of Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli

It all started in 1978, when Jerry’s parents, Augie and Phylis, opened an Italian grocery store in Carol Stream. 

Jerry later joined the family business and introduced specialty hot sandwiches inspired by cherished family recipes. 

With overwhelming success and demand for their mouth-watering creations, Augustino’s transitioned from a grocery store to a full-fledged deli, leaving their retail items gathering dust.

In the late 1980s, Augie and Jerry stumbled upon the perfect location for their sandwich shop in Carol Stream. 

Drawing inspiration from Augie’s experience as a USO coordinator, they decided to decorate the restaurant with authentic Rock and Roll memorabilia from local Chicago bands and renowned acts like The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

The space became a tribute to the iconic era, complete with a colossal neon-lit jukebox at the entrance, affectionately dubbed “the mothership.”

When Cathy Joined The Family Business At Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli

For Cathy, marrying Jerry meant embracing his family’s devotion to the restaurant. She raised their four daughters while he tirelessly ran the business, expanding it to two additional locations over time. 

Augustino's Rock & Roll Deli 73

Eventually, Cathy joined Augustino’s, bringing her expertise in marketing, growing the catering operation, and navigating the complex world of employment laws and restaurant requirements in Illinois. 

Jerry describes her as the glue that holds the deli together, with her infectious energy and ability to make work fun.

The Little White Cup

Cathy’s impact stretches far beyond customers and employees of Augustino’s Rock and Roll Deli. 

Unbeknownst to many, she played a pioneering role in promoting eco-friendly single-use food containers over 15 years ago.

It all started with a seemingly trivial encounter in 2007, when a customer couldn’t decide between bottled or tap water, and agonized over the business’s choice to serve water in styrofoam cups.

Augustino's Rock & Roll Deli filling compostable cup

Intrigued by the customer’s water quandary, Cathy began to investigate the true impact of Augustino’s on the environment. 

What she discovered was staggering. Each one of their locations was churning out 10,000 cups of free water a month and all in styrofoam to-gos that would take 500 years to decompose.

Determined to make a change, Cathy sought alternatives to styrofoam, but initially only found paper cups lined with petrochemicals, which didn’t meet her standards. 

After further research, she discovered a company in Colorado producing compostable cups made from corn byproducts.

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By committing to a significant monthly order, Augustino’s convinced Sysco Foods, one of the nation’s largest restaurant distributors, to carry these compostable cups. 

But cups were just the beginning, and Cathy embarked on a mission to replace all disposable items at Augustino’s with eco-friendly alternatives.

Jeremy Levine
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Today, Augustino’s has successfully eliminated styrofoam plates, containers, and utensils, inspiring other establishments and even government legislation.

Thanks to Cathy’s pioneering efforts, styrofoam is now banned in multiple states, with laws being implemented to ban single-use food containers and utensils in Illinois starting in 2024.

It all started with a little white cup – a symbol of Cathy’s commitment to sustainable practices and her willingness to make a difference.

Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli Resources

Check out the MENU.

Learn MORE about the story of the Little White Cup.

Visit the Augustino’s Rock & Roll Deli WEBSITE.

Find out more about how you can contribute to THE HUNDRED CLUB OF DUPAGE COUNTY.

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