Charlotte Restaurants Making Smart Environmental Decisions

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Amidst an abundance of conversation and swift action to make the restaurant industry more sustainable, several Charlotte restaurants have hopped on board.

But what makes a restaurant sustainable? According to QSR Magazine, there are many layers to the process. Recycling, of course, is an easy place to start, and many restaurants already recycle plastic, cardboard, glass, metal, and oil. Food waste, electricity consumption, and water usage are all other areas to watch.

Another important component is choosing to serve dishes and drinks in sustainable packaging, and that’s exactly what Sweet Lew’s BBQ has accomplished.

Owners Lewis Donald and Laura Grice have stated that their materials are 90% compostable, and they use cups, cutlery, and straws all made of compostable plastic. They’ve even taken great care outdoors with their patio picnic tables, which are made from recycled materials. Finally, some of the wood used to construct Sweet Lew’s BBQ was salvaged from a neighboring restaurant.

“For my business partner Laura Furman Grice and I, it is very important that we are conscious of today’s ongoing pollution issues,” said Donald. “We felt that the stigma of foam containers and BBQ needed to stop, when there are so many compostable options nowadays. We love that we found 100% recycled plastic picnic tables to fit our BBQ patio theme.”

Stoke, the restaurant located inside Charlotte Marriott Center City, has removed all plastic straws from the bar and restaurant. This stems from Marriott International’s call to remove plastic from all of their properties around the world by July 2019. Instead of plastic straws, Stoke now offers a straw made from wheat stems (don’t worry, it’s gluten-free).

“We appreciate the leadership of Marriott International in their global initiative to reduce waste with the elimination of plastic straws, and we have removed all plastic straws from Stoke,” said Todd Brinkman, Direct of Eats and Drinks at the hotel. “For our guests who can't imagine a cocktail or iced tea without a straw, we found a premium plastic straw alternative that is made from wheat stems and is 100% biodegradable, as well as gluten-free." 

Roots Café in South End has also made a few steps toward sustainability. They offer dry linguini pasta as stir sticks rather than plastic straws, and their cold-beverage to-go cups are biodegradable.

Local nonprofit Piedmont Culinary Guild lists “investing in the environment” as one of three main criteria for obtaining a Business Membership, a program that launched January 2019. PCG Business Members must use practices such as “eliminating Styrofoam, using food rescue programs, composting, recycling, and using eco-friendly packaging.” Current members include Sweet Lew’s BBQ, FS Food Group, The Yolk, Your Mom’s Donuts, and more.

Heather Sinyard