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Disposable Eateries

Updated: Jul 7

A diner is a small, inexpensive restaurant found across the United States, as well as in Canada and parts of Western Europe. Diners offer a wide range of foods, mostly American cuisine, a casual atmosphere, and, characteristically, a combination of booths served by a waitstaff and a long sit-down counter with direct service, in the smallest simply by a cook. Many diners have extended hours, and some along highways and areas with significant shift work stay open for 24 hours.

Not entirely sure where I'm going with this post. Let's just say it's a little bit about nostalgia, environmentalism and the decline in privately owned business.

First things first! I recall in my youth the abundance of diner style/family owned business. Yes, I'm old enough to remember the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker. A trip to the barber in small town rural Ontario, followed by a visit to the soda shop/diner. Now, everything is corporate, who can really afford to operate a privately owned restaurant? Pretty much nobody, at a minimum of $500,000 investment for a 50 seat restaurant++, as I said pretty much nobody.

Independent operators have faced more than two years of sales hits from COVID-19 and inflation. Alignable finds that 45% of restaurant operators couldn’t pay July rent, marking a 7% increase in rent delinquencies from June. Additionally, 84% of U.S. consumers said they are eating out at restaurants less often because of cost pressures, according to Morning Consult.

While food costs have risen across the board, restaurant operators are particularly hard pressed by rising meat prices, which 70% of those surveyed say have gone up the most.

To weather the storm, small restaurant operators are deploying tactics like increasing menu prices, trimming staff and simplifying their menus, per the Seated survey. Such strategies seem to be helping to insulate major chains from the inflationary environment. Yet, with all of this, major franchise/corporate entities like McDonalds, Pizza Pizza have thrived, in fact increased sales during this period. Hmmmm, next up...

A disposable (also called disposable product) is a product designed for a single use after which it is recycled or is disposed as solid waste. The term is also sometimes used for products that may last several months (e.g. disposable air filters) to distinguish from similar products that last indefinitely (e.g. washable air filters). The word "disposables" is not to be confused with the word "consumables", which is widely used in the mechanical world. For example, welders consider welding rods, tips, nozzles, gas, etc. to be "consumables", as they last only a certain amount of time before needing to be replaced. Consumables are needed for a process to take place, such as inks for printing and welding rods for welding, while disposable products are products that can be thrown away after it becomes damaged or otherwise useless.

Apart from the well know fact that restaurants are notorious for food waste, an even bigger issue is the amount of non biodegradable packaging the fast food and other sectors use on a daily basis. Don't be fooled by McDonald's and there self serving effort to use cardboard straws in there PLASTIC CUPS!

There are three main types of sustainable food packaging that you can use: biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable.

The most popular one for restaurants is the biodegradable one, which is single-use and will disintegrate in a few days to months. Biodegradable food packaging is usually made of plants or plant waste, and it’s a popular choice in the food and beverage industry.

Recyclable packaging is also single-use, but instead of disintegrating, you send it away to a recycling center, where it gets turned into a new product. If you use recyclable packaging, install recycling bins in your restaurant to make it easier for customers and staff to dispose of trash.

Finally, reusable packaging is, as the name suggests, something that you can keep on using for years. Because it needs to be durable, it’s most often made of glass, wood, aluminum, bamboo, or even recycled plastic.

It's a tough time for restauranteur's, no question. What I hope for looking forward is a new, more conscious type of restaurant owner. Restaurants can be both profitable and embrace social values. In fact the two are symbiotic. Additionally, I hope to see a new generation of cooks, service staff and managers that embrace TRUE professionalism and quality food service practices. maybe start with one our online program in sustainable hospitality!

Cheers, and have a great weekend!

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