Over the last few months, the restaurant industry has endured a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Across the United States, operators seem to be running things a little differently in order to survive and succeed in the face of adversity. In the mid-sized city of Tyler, Texas, one shop, in particular, has found ways to adapt while taking some significant steps forward in their business.
Is this the start of a new wave of legislation in the U.S. to help divert food waste? Beginning July 1, 2020, Vermont took a big step forward in protecting the environment. Now unused or leftover organic material must be donated to those in need, used as animal feed, composted, or dropped off at recycling centers.
The Coronavirus crisis has dealt a harsh blow to foodservice operators. Mandated closures put in place across the country have caused many restaurants to adapt and get creative with their business models. But, despite these challenging times, businesses are supporting their communities with the same care and hospitality they've always provided their customers.
Foodservice operators across the U.S. have been thrown into a bumpy ride that they are being forced to navigate quickly. But, bar and restaurant owners are rising to the challenge and coming up with unique ways to improve cash flow, keep their purveyors in business and communities fed. Here are four ways foodservice operators are adapting with some creative thinking.
We're in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It's a scary, uncertain and troubling time and one that no foodservice operator could have predicted.
You may have heard that there's a worldwide shortage of Polylactic acid (PLA) at the moment.
The craft beer industry has exploded in recent years, and we mean exploded. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of regional breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs nearly doubled. And in 2018 alone, the craft beer market brought in $27.6 billion dollars, 13.2% of the overall beer market.
There can be confusion about what is and is not recyclable. Placing the wrong items into the recycle bin can contaminate the recycle stream and could end up in a landfill anyway.
Today we explore common items which you likely have in your home right now: Pizza Boxes, Paper Coffee Cups, Styrofoam, and Plastic Shopping Bags.
While it may seem like a secret recycling code, the symbols printed on plastic items identify what items are made of. Plastic containers like milk jugs and water bottles all contain a numerical code for the resin type. This resin identification coding system was created in 1988 as a way to improve identification of resin types for recycling programs. This coding system is critical today.
We often get questions from restaurant owners about the benefits of using compostable take out containers in cities where there is no commercial compost service for residents or businesses. Recently a restaurant in Oakland (which has a compost service) also wondered what happens if a consumer takes a compostable container and puts it in a city trash can instead of a compost bin.
We love these questions because it means people are becoming conscious of the massive amounts of food packaging waste we create and agree we need solutions for it.
You’ve put care into creating your signature line of juices, to go cocktails or cold coffee drinks. You’ve picked the highest quality ingredients and perfected your recipes through trial and error. Your juices and smoothies are healthy for your customers and for the environment. Use the same attention to detail when shopping for packaging to match. Here’s what to look for to select the right bottling options for your delicious creations.
On December 14, 2018, a plastic bag ban will go into effect for the City of Boston. The ban was unanimously approved by the city council and Mayor Marty Walsh. Boston joins other nearby communities such as Cambridge and Brookline who already have bag bans in place.
Custom printed packaging is an important element for any restaurant's branding and marketing. Its one of the core product lines we offer and we have many customers who count on the quality work our printers provide. For many restaurants, it's cost-effective to buy packaging in the bulk quantities required for most custom print jobs.
Luna Café is a beautiful breath of fresh air. The idea for the restaurant was born from Sarah Levine’s love of food, and we’re so grateful. Watch our spotlight video to find out why we're enamored with Luna.
The future of the environment looks a little brighter after Dunkin' Donuts announced it is phasing out the use of polystyrene foam cups for its hot beverage products. Dunkin' Donuts said their more than 9,000 U.S. restaurants will shift to Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard certified paper cups by the year 2020. According to Dunkin' Donuts, the corporate shift will remove approximately 1 billion foam coffee cups from the waste system each year, which equates to more than 79 cups-per-minute.
Making sustainable choices isn’t just relegated to the restaurant world Catering companies are making these choices too – and some of them are doing a pretty darn good job of it. Here are five examples:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. discards 31 million tons of plastic in landfills alone every year. Clearly, we can’t recycle our way out of the problem of our increasing use of plastic.
The food service industry has been responsible for much of this plastic because of its reliance on single-use containers. Fortunately, the industry has
Admit it, we all do it…
Whether it be the brewpub with the juicy mushroom swiss burger or the upscale eatery that serves the salty, sweet cider-glazed chorizo as part of their tapas menu; we all daydream about our next chance to eat our favorite meals at our favorite restaurants!
Your grandmother's prize-winning pumpkin pie recipe may draw people in, but how do you keep your customers coming back for more? Ask any successful restauranteur how they retain customers and they'll more than likely point to their menus.
Much has been written about how challenging the restaurant business is and the supposedly high failure rates in that industry versus the average new business. According to the National Restaurant Association, 30% of restaurants fail in the first year and 50% fail within three years. But that’s actually on par with statistics for most small businesses and it doesn’t really provide a sense for whether the majority of the failures were because an owner has a lot of culinary but lacks business skills.
While I may not have run a restaurant, I’ve worked with hundreds of them over the past few years as a packaging supplier. During that time, I’ve seen some patterns emerge and painful lessons learned by clients of ours who put their heart and soul into their café only to see if barely stay afloat financially. Many of the restaurant owners we work with haven’t taken a paycheck themselves in months. We hate seeing this and want to help restaurant and café owners avoid common mistakes before it’s too late.
Just build it and they will come, right?
In the age of the 'side hustle' and unique culinary concepts, it is not surprising that foodies are using their own culinary ideas and turning them into small food businesses. But, how do you successfully become a foodpreneur? How do you transition your concept from your kitchen, to store shelves and then, ultimately, into the consumer’s hands?
Sundae's mission is simple; To spread joy! They believe in delivering the best product backed by the best practices. All of their delicious ice cream is made in small batches on-site, ensuring only the freshest and best quality ice cream makes its way onto your taste buds. They are committed to supporting local purveyors and source only natural and real ingredients for all of their ice cream flavors.
Whether it’s your first year or your tenth year in business, there are bound to be certain times of the week or year that are slower than others. Usually it’s after the holiday rush - in January and February - or in the beginning of the week, on Mondays and Tuesdays.
What should you do during those slow times? Should you just accept that you’ll have less business and find something else productive to work on? Or do you market and promote so you’ll have more people coming in and business to keep busy? The answer is both. You can’t control the seasonality and the reality that more people dine out on weekends. But there are lots of things you can do to grow your business even during slow times.
Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. This typically must occur in about 90 days. Some companies advertise their products as merely biodegradable. This is not necessarily a good thing since nearly everything will biodegrade in 10,000 years!
The Balanced Bee is the first, uniquely blended Juice and Broth Restorative. They offer two main products: juice and broth. They believe in balance, quality and integrity in product and design. Think better, feel better and look better without compromising your health or the Earth.
Catering customers are increasingly concerned with the impact their events has on our wider ecosystem – as a result, they’re requesting “sustainable” faire for weddings, conferences and other events throughout the year. Whether your firm is trying to compete in a new niche as a sustainable caterer or simply evolve with the changing demands of your traditional market, we’re here to offer some suggestions and options for upping your sustainability game.
As a company that ships product around the country, in many cases to areas that have local competition for the same product, Good Start Packaging has struggled for years with how to price our products (including delivery costs) in a way that is both fair to everyone and as competitive as possible with every form of competition there is out there.
Each year, thousands of U.S. restaurants and cafés start or consider starting a customer loyalty program. Typically these programs involve giving the customer a card that is stamped for each purchase. After a typical 10 purchases, the customer gets a free meal or drink. Given the popularity of these programs and the ubiquity of the cards in many people’s wallets, many would think these programs add value that justifies the cost to the business. However, there is little evidence to support this.
You can do a search on the internet and find numerous arguments for and against customer loyalty programs. Most of the ones in support of them are from companies that sell services like digital loyalty tracking programs. A typical program will have a press release with an ambiguous statistic like “Of those patrons that are aware of a loyalty program at a favorite restaurant, 87% participate in the program.”
So what does this tell us- that most people who know they can get something they like for free will take it? We don’t need a statistician to figure that out. What you never see from these companies is hard data that strongly correlates an increase in revenue and profit with the implementation of a loyalty program.
Sustainability is a popular topic among restaurant owners today, but just how important are sustainable practices to the average customers? Well, all this talk among operators may not be for nothing, according to a new survey completed by Technomic, 63 percent of consumers said they are more likely to go to a restaurant that they perceive as being socially responsible. This could have a huge impact for any restaurant and certainly explains why 93 percent of restaurant operates find using sustainable practices as very or somewhat important. More than 50 percent of these operators go one step further and project that restaurants will have to take on sustainability practices if they hope to remain competitive in the upcoming years.
Consumers looking to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle should focus on choosing foods that are free of additives and other harmful adulterants. When it comes to purchasing animal products, such as meat and dairy, it's important to understand the terms that are listed on the food's labels and packaging in order to make the most healthy choices. Two specific terms that consumers should be on the look out for are "No Antibiotics" and "No Hormones."
When we toss our plastic bottle into the recycle container - we feel we have done our part. But what really happens to the recycled plastic - where does it go, and are we really making a difference by doing this?
Sustainable living comes down to more than merely preserving the environment. The ultimate in making a more sustainable lifestyle also means protecting one's health. One can do this in part through knowing the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed meats. The following is some clarification on what these terms really mean for the consumer.
In part 1 of this series, I shared five lessons I’ve learned as a small business owner. Here are the next five tips I’d like to discuss in hopes that other restaurant and small business entrepreneurs will take away something from what I’ve learned so far.
This month marks the 5 year anniversary of the start of Good Start Packaging. Our blog is focused on helping the food service industry be more successful and to reduce plastic. But this week, I thought I’d share some practical tips I’ve learned as a small business owner these past five years in the hope that my experience might help reduce wasted time and money for a few small businesses and speed the path to your success. Though I’m not a restaurant owner, I think these tips are applicable to any small business including restaurants.
After having run a sales organization for a large public software company, I figured running a small packaging distribution business would be about the same level of difficulty. I was wrong! In fact, it's much more challenging, requiring more stamina, more ability to wear multiple hats, and a greater ability to synthesize multiple streams of information into meaningful actions. A small business usually has little room to waste time or money so this is really a critical skill.
Below are the top 10 things I’ve learned that help build success.
1. No Whining
The goal of reducing waste across many sectors of the food-service industry is following a paradigm shift. Discarded waste that fills non-degradable bags and populates landfills is not only aesthetically undesirable, but it's also environmentally irresponsible. "Going green" and "reducing our carbon footprint" are not just buzzwords; they are responsible steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
A recent article from Independent Restaurateur profiles Wafels & Dinges, a New York City restaurant that made the leap to brick and mortar restaurant from a successful food truck business. Owner Thomas DeGeest talks about how much harder running a restaurant is: “Managing a restaurant is a whole different ballgame,” he says, “Your margins are a lot tighter and you have to watch your numbers a lot more closely.”
What About Going From a Restaurant to a Food Truck Business?
DeGeest’s experience got us thinking whether it make sense for a successful restaurant to go into the food truck business instead of the other way around. After all, if you can run a restaurant, wouldn’t it be that much easier to start a food truck business? By their transitory nature, food trucks can get your brand known all over a metropolitan area, gaining new loyal customers who might then want to try the restaurant owned by the same business. Its like a free roving billboard for your restaurant. Here are some other benefits:
- If a restaurant has a catering business, it can use the food truck to deliver catered food, or cook it onsite.
- As mentioned previously a well decorated and advertised truck can help build loyalty for a café or restaurant brand and get people who wouldn’t have know about the restaurant to try it. The truck can even offer coupons to try the restaurant and advertise its catering business to consumers as they’re enjoying the food. What better way to reach prospective restaurant and catering customers than while they’re eating your food?
- Food truck owners that also own restaurants can use the restaurant to get deliveries of supplies, prep food prior to going out on the truck, and share staff, all of which are challenges for competitor food truck owners who don’t have restaurants. Many cities require food trucks to have access to a commercial kitchen for food prep. Some food trucks rent such places but don’t fully utilize them like a restaurant would.
Chicken keeping is easier than most people realize. All it takes is a small enclosed yard and a well designed chicken coop and run. Some restaurants are even discovering the benefits of keeping chickens for fresh eggs. There are numerous benefits beyond the eggs as they also gobble up kitchen scraps, eat bugs and turn it all into nitrogen-rich droppings for fertilizing plants and gardens.
Growing organic produce can be easier than many have been led to believe. One of the most effective approaches to fresh, organic produce, naturally, is to create the effluent kitchen garden off the back of a rear exit.
Anyone born later than the 1950s lives in a world filled with messages designed to influence consumption. This sea of information subtly shapes our attitudes and influences our buying choices. Many modern marketers utilize socially conscious terms like sustainable and organic to tempt consumers to try products that, in many cases, don't live up to the hype. The best way to ensure that the products you use are truly organic or made in a sustainable manner is to carefully study the ways they are packaged and labeled.
Some people think restaurant branding is exclusively something for marketing executives at big chains to strategize over. In fact, its because of the ubiquity of major restaurant chains, their pricing and marketing clout, that a well thought through approach to branding is so important for independent restaurants and cafes. Consumers may try a restaurant for its low price or reputation but they keep coming back because of the emotional connection they had with it. That’s what great branding can do.
Our world is full of fast food, TV dinners, and even sit-down restaurants that masquerade as fancy while offering what is essentially a menu full of heat-and-serve entrees. With an increased awareness of dietary sensitivities, food allergies, health concerns, and even religious priorities, consumers are more and more frequently seeking sustainable establishments which cater to their specific dietary requirements.
This means those same people will be skipping eateries where pre-made food is heated from a box and patronizing instead those restaurants and cafes which prepare their dishes from scratch. They will be bringing their own lunches to corporate functions or going without. They will eat the granola bars from their purses because the food at the wedding reception is pre-made with an ingredient not on their diet. Guests like these are not people who make dietary “exceptions” for special occasions, so to keep them happy, food made from scratch is an absolute must.
Guests are realizing more and more the plethora of benefits from locally-sourced, sustainable, cooked-from-scratch meals. Patrons come in with special requests all the time, and in record numbers. Anger them with nothing to eat that fits their diets, and they will never return. Cook locally-sourced, sustainable dishes for them with their requested modifications, and prepare to experience a level of customer love and appreciation never experienced before.
Catering to gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, Esselstyn, and other dietary preferences means better customer retention, fewer complaints, and guests who rave about the nutritional accommodations they receive on social media for all to see.
For decades, plastic, which includes polystyrene foam (e.g. Syrofoam™) film has been used to seal and protect food products. Foam is sturdy enough to support a modest amount of weight and other plastics, when sealed properly, keep foods fresh and free from contamination for several days at a time.
When plastic food packaging containers were first developed, they took off quickly because of their convenience and growing number of practical uses. While they were easy to use and extremely cost effective, their use came at a high price for the environment. The damage to the environment was twofold. First because of the manufacturing processes and chemicals used in their creation and, secondly, due to littering and the amount of plastic and foam containers that ended up in landfills.
Studies conducted by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking have demonstrated that making disposable paper products uses as much petroleum or natural gas as polystyrene plates. The study showed that paper product production uses 12 times as much steam and 36 times as much electricity.
There are few things better than playing with a laser thermometer, and drinking a lot of coffee while getting paid for it.
Today we’re testing the claims that double wall insulated hot cups are better than using recycled cup sleeves with traditional single wall hot cups. Double wall hot cups are made by manufacturing two paper walls with an insulating air pocket between them. Some manufacturers have claimed using a double wall cup avoids the need for a sleeve and keeps drinks hotter longer.
Mountain View, California is about to become the next city out of a growing list of over 70 that will ban the use of polystyrene containers for restaurants and other businesses. Home to large tech companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Symantec, Mountain View has been a leader in reducing its environmental impact. Like many cities, it had to wrangle with the plastic industry and “personal choice” advocates to bring about this sensible ban.
The ban is to take effect July 1, 2014 and applies to a broad array of organizations, from restaurants, to clubs, food trucks, and cafeterias, whether public or not. It bans the use of many foamed and extruded polystyrene products, including cups, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, and hinged or lidded containers (clamshells). Those organizations are encouraged to switch to reusable or disposable compostable containers made from renewable resources.
In part 1 of this 2 part series, we disclosed some of the tolls that even our own "green" products can have on the environment. In this post, we are going to share a few of the things we are doing to improve upon those issues.
Good Start Packaging is very conscious of the entire lifecycle environmental footprint of the products we sell. After all, just because a product is compostable doesn’t mean a lot of environmentally unsustainable things happened to produce and transport it to you.
We don’t mean to pick on China specifically since the United States imports products from many countries. But the fact is that many of the products Americans buy and even some of Good Start Packaging’s compostable food packaging is made in China. That’s why many people are increasingly concerned about what this means for the economy and global environment. We get questions every week from concerned clients about where our coffee cups and other take-out containers are made. We’re happy to be transparent about the answers to this because doing so enhances the discussion about what we can all do to improve the environment.
Making waste management a priority at your catering event makes sense on several levels. From an environmental standpoint, traditional food containers and utensils place a heavy burden on landfills. The fact that much of this waste is not only non-biodegradable but in some cases toxic makes matters worse. Utilizing natural products is simply better for the environment.
Often overlooked, food-packaging containers are used in restaurants throughout the United States. Our fast food culture has made them so prevalent that cities are increasingly banning the use of polystyrene foam food packaging containers.
As today’s market grows ever-greener, new technologies are emerging in an effort to meet the needs of industries seeking more environmentally friendly alternatives for packaging. Enter biodegradable plastics created with the help of poly lactic acid (PLA).
Beth Terry is an Oakland, CA area blogger and activist who promotes reducing one’s plastic usage. She’s been featured in the San Francisco and national news while doing things like donning plastic bag costumes to raise awareness for reusable bags. She’s even given a TED talk about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In the past few years, her blog, My Plastic-Free Life, and subsequent book, Plastic-Free have chronicled her struggles to reduce her personal plastic usage, while offering practical tips to consumers to reduce the amount of plastic they buy.
As the economy continues to improve, and people have more money to spend, everyone gains the luxury of being choosy about where they shop, dine and spend their recreational time. For those that care about the environment, having this luxury means being able to choose businesses based on how they treat the world around them.
"Going green" is becoming more popular by the day, and therefore, restaurant and coffee-shop owners who are trying to promote a green brand have more competition than ever. Success takes a real understanding of how to be sustainable and the willingness to go the extra mile to make it happen. This means staying up to date on the latest issues, trends and practices when it comes to running a green business.
Last year I attended the Specialty Coffee Association Conference in Boston. One of the most memorable presenters was Nathanael May from Portland Coffee Roasters, who are known for striving for environmental sustainability.
His presentation was titled “Customer Service from the Barista” and was geared for the coffee shop owner audience. But its insight is relevant throughout the entire food service industry.
What You Might Not Know About Foam
Many cities around the U.S. have passed or are in the process of passing laws that prohibit the use of expanded polystyrene foam take-out containers.
The future of food packaging could be just around the corner!
A company called MonoSol has started producing a new form of water-soluble packaging "MonoDose" which actually dissolves! The magic behind this amazing packaging is polyvinyl alcohol or PVOH. Now while the name may not sound appetizing, in 1999, the USDA deemed PVOH safe for consumption and is "an excellent candidate for coating a variety of fruits".
With more and more cities such as San Jose, CA adopting the ban on plastic bags, the focus is now being turned to the the produce aisles. While you may not be able to get a plastic bag for your groceries at the checkout stand (or may have to pay .10 cents per recycled bag), you still can separate your fruits and vegetables in the single use plastic bags found in the produce aisles.
What is the purpose of banning plastic bags, if the produce aisle harbors them by the thousands, and many shoppers end up with more plastic produce bags than actual plastic bags from the checkout counter? That is exactly the reason that activists and officials are targeting produce departments.
Speaking on the issue personally, I never really felt the need to use these environmentally destructive produce bags. When I buy fruits or vegetables, it is usually in small quantities and I have no problem with them being loose in my shopping basket. However, I know that many people buy in larger quantities and may have some concerns with their produce being loose amongst their other groceries.
Many businesses that are environmentally responsible will discard their used cardboard boxes off to the recycling centers, but environmentally responsible businesses that are also a bit savvy, will avoid recycling their used boxes and resell them to UsedCardboardBoxes.com instead.
Marty Metro, Founder and CEO of UsedCardboardBoxes.com has taken his "neighborhood experiment" of buying and selling used cardboard boxes, and turned it into a business that has a customer base that includes a national contract UPS and has caught the attention of Wal-Mart by claiming to cut their costs by 10-15 percent!
UsedCardboardBoxes.com buys used boxes from large companies at higher rate than recycling centers and then sells the used boxes to other companies and consumers at a lower rate than retail stores. They offer free 1-2 day shipping and services every residential and business address in the continental U.S.!
It's World Water Week and thousands of people across the globe are scavenging for water to survive. Most only get a few cups of contaminated water per day.
What can you do to help? There is a lot you can do. Start by watching the video below from Water.org:
A while back we wrote a post about a specific amazing fungi being able to digest polyurethane, but when thinking about environmentally friendly alternatives to the huge styrofoam (Polystyrene) packaging problem, do mushrooms come to mind?
They will now. In 2007, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre founded Ecovative Design, a company that creates a mushroom based alternative to styrofoam packaging!
How does it work? After becoming fascinated with mushrooms growing in wood chips, Eben and Gavin noticed how the fungal mycelium (the vegetative part containing thread like hyphae) strongly bonded the wood chips together. this observation inspired them to think about using the mycelium as a bonding resin.