As restaurants across New Jersey work to actively reduce or remove plastics from their establishments, the community has relied on one another and their customers to produce the most positive environmental and business benefits possible, Marilyn Schlossbach, owner of the Marilyn Schlossbach Group, said.
“I went online, looked at different food establishments that were using better items and I asked them where they sourced them from,” she said.
For 12 years, Marilyn Schlossbach Group, which employs more than 150 in-season at Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park Yacht Club and Pop’s Garage on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, said she has focused on using only recyclable, compostable and bamboo products for any job that requires disposables, including bartending, take-out and catering.
“We do have paper straws on request, but we also have a contest with our staff to push the sale of our reusable metal straws instead, which are branded with the website of our nonprofit Food for Thought by the Sea and will be used off-season as a promotional item,” Schlossbach said. “For example, if you purchase a straw in the summer, you might be able to enjoy happy hour prices all night or half-priced appetizers off-season.”
Hailey Zaboski, community outreach coordinator of The Peccary in Millburn, a 30-seat gourmet coffee shop in business for nearly one year that employs four full-time, said it also was easier to build sustainability into their business model from the get-go by offering paper to-go products and all-natural hay straws.
“The only single-use plastic we offer are coffee cup lids and, even then, we (ask) customers to ‘skip the lid,’” Zaboski said.
Staying local also helps, she added.
“Our milk distributor, Springhouse Creamery, is a small family-run farm who distributes milk in glass bottles, and our coffee distributor only ever uses paper goods to distribute their coffee,” Zaboski said. “These options may be pricier, but customers appreciate the quality (alongside) our environmental practices.”
It also is a place where customers are incentivized to slow down and stay to enjoy one’s coffee, Zaboski added.
“If a guest stays with us, we pair their coffee with chocolate and fruit, provide an educational factor and let them try what we have to offer,” she said. “It has proven to be a big part of why people visit our shop.
“We also offer a program with our reusable glass bottles by incentivizing our guests with a larger volume of coffee for the same price.”
Jonathan Hirsch, owner of Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille in Cape May, said the 250-seat restaurant attached and affiliated with his family’s 70-room Montreal Beach Resort of 53 years found it easy to do away with plastic bags, cups, straws, utensils and plates last year — but not without some investigating first.
“We took a lot of time to find the right paper straws, for example, which we purchased this year,” Hirsch said. “Ones that would last and allow people to stir their drinks — there are great options out there if you just do your research.”
Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille, which employs 125 in-season, was designated an Ocean Friendly Restaurant by the Surfrider Foundation earlier this year for its environmentally friendly practices, including making sure all seafood options are certified sustainable or labeled good alternatives by Seafood Watch.
“We have such a great seafood industry here and many of our distributors already have been maintaining such standards,” Hirsch said.
Alex Cormier, partner at Broadmoor Restaurant in Lambertville, said his nearly 2-year-old, 50-seat fine dining establishment and eight employees also serve organic meat, poultry, fish and produce with eco-friendly products, such as paper straws.
“But we do have to charge for it,” he said.