There's been a groundswell across the country against the use of plastic straws and now a high-profile Plano restaurant has joined the campaign. Whiskey Cake, the New American restaurant in Plano that's part of the Frontburner restaurant group, has initiated a new program saying no to straws.
"As a part of our operational philosophy and being the first green restaurant in Plano, we are supporting the movement to reduce straw waste," says a company spokesman. "Millions of plastic straws are used each day in the United States. We want to do our part in reducing straw pollution so we're saying no to straws."
Straws have become the most egregious example of the problem of disposable plastic, which is filling the world's oceans and trashing its beaches. It's an issue in Dallas as well, where mountains of plastic refuse wash up on the shores of White Rock Lake every time there's a big storm.
Plastic lasts forever, hurts wildlife, and is showing up in our food supply, when fish mistake the plastic for food and eat it, and humans then eat the fish. You're eating plastic.
Some plastic is deemed necessary, such as the material used to build cars. But single-use plastic items such as cups, bottles, and especially straws have become the object of boycotts and in some cases, local laws.
In recent months, a number of cities have enacted plastic straw bans, from Naples, Florida, to Seattle whose city-wide ban begins in July, to Malibu, where a ban on straws will begin in June as part of a program eliminating all single-use plastic items.
Whiskey Cake joins Snappy Salads, the Dallas-based salad chain, which has made sustainability a foundation of its business plan. Snappy's to-go packaging is made from compostable materials, and the only straws it offers are paper.
Dream Cafe stopped using plastic straws more than a year ago. Owner Mary O'Brien says that she set up a table to educate her customers on the pitfalls of plastic, then switched to compostable straws wrapped in paper. She's also seen an overall decrease in customer demand for straws.
At Ross & Hall, the neighborhood spot that opened in 2017, the owners recently inaugurated a program in which they'll deliver water and straws only upon customer request, rather than automatically.
Restaurants in the Headington family such as CBD Provisions, Americano, and Sassetta, offer straws only with cocktails or beverages, but not for water unless on request.
V-Eats, the vegan restaurant at Trinity Groves, uses paper straws only, and only in response to customer request. The policy has drawn praise from customers, some of whom bring in their own metal straws.
Whiskey Cake's announcement of its program is generating some of the same entitled whining that accompanied Dallas' 2014 attempt to ban plastic bags, but the restaurant has handled it gracefully. "We understand the many view points of our patrons, but the environmental impact in both pollution and impact to food chain needs our support and attention," it says.
Besides, they're not banishing straws entirely: For the crybabies who insist on having their straw for their drinky, Whiskey Cake is providing a compostable alternative.
In addition to reducing straw waste, Whiskey Cake also offers electric car charging stations, produces solar energy with a roof full of solar panels, repurposes cardboard as coasters, reuses and refills table candles made from recycled wine bottles, and recycles glass and cardboard materials daily.
They anticipate that the program will extend to other restaurants under the Frontburner umbrella, which include Mexican Sugar, Ida Claire, and The Keeper.
"We aren't seeking any publicity, but are rather educating our loyal patrons on an operational change and allowing them to voice any concerns so that we can address them," the restaurant says. "We take a ton of steps as a business to reduce our carbon footprint and be a lighter imprint on the community and we don't think that should be a secret. The more we talk about it, the more we can effect change for the better."