Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eating out


So, two nights ago we decided to go out to eat. Yes, I know that I said we were broke but we sold our car yesterday so we decided to treat ourselves - partially because we didn't have much to eat in the house that was quick and easy (it's was a long day off) and I really did't want to go shop where I was taking my day off from... but also because we never eat out and it's such a treat. We went to a great local BBQ place, which was fantastic as always. We chose them because we feel good about how much they are forerunners in our community as a business that supports local and consciously sells good quality product. Plus, the people that own the restaurant have a child at Kinderhof, where my youngest child goes to school, so we naturally want a chance to support them.

We sat down and I looked around, wondering if going out to eat was really a good idea. Paper napkins, plastic straws... this was a new challenge. No sooner did we sit down when we were served water - glasses with plastic straws for us adults and a plastic take home cup for the one kid that we had with us. I stared at the cup for a few moments before I could process it and, consequently, missed my chance to send it back. I had to think about what might happen if we refused the cup - whether or not they would just reuse it and give it to someone else who would possibly ask for it anyway if given the choice, or if it would get thrown away or recycled. Then I had to think about whether or not we would take it home when we were done eating, since we had obviously committed to accepting the cup of water by now, or if we would leave it behind. And if we left it behind, what would happen to it?

Ok so note to self: when first sitting down at a restaurant, inform waitperson that we don't want to use any disposable products during our visit, unless absolutely necessary (like in the case with paper napkins at a BBQ restaurant). However, we can opt out of using straws... we don't need them and the restaurant could save a little money not using them for everybody (ok, not a lot but whatever).

I'm happy to say that this was the toughest part of the adventure in this particular restaurant (hooray!) - however, when we were driving to the restaurant and we were halfway there, I realized that we had forgotten our to-go containers for left overs. I kid you not, we almost turned back to get something. I knew we weren't going to eat everything we bought, we never have from this restaurant... but we decided that we would just have to eat everything that we ordered so there would be nothing left over (this was helpful because we ordered less then we might have if we had let our stomachs do the deciding).

At one point in our visit, we had a conversation with the owner. I told him about what we were doing and how we were trying to eliminate waste and disposable things from our live. He was really understanding and apologetic for the plastic kid cup. This guy is really trying and doing such a great job that I certainly wasn't aiming to have an issue with him. (I hope he doesn't think so!) But it definitely got me thinking about how hard it must be to own a business, especially a restaurant, and try to reduce waste. He was talking about just trying to get the kitchen to compost being a challenge...

Anyway, we finished our dinner and all of it was delicious as always, and we had almost no more issues with disposable products. Ok, well the waitress did deliver extra napkins and little wipes, but we left them on the table untouched so that they could be reused.

And then, we were stuffed.
And guess what? We didn't eat everything.

We stared at the food thinking about what to do with it since our to-go containers were sitting at home. Then we asked the waitress to ask the owner if we could borrow something to take the leftovers home in... and he agreed! So cool. No disposable to-go containers for us... But next time this won't happen. We talked about needing to be better prepared - I am thinking of having some containers that I can always keep in the car, so that I can have them whenever needed... not that we ever eat out, but we need to be ready for anything.

We will be returning the carrying device back to the restaurant tomorrow.


  1. I can really relate to this post. I don't eat at restaurants often, but one place I (used to) love to grab a meal was Ikea's in-house cafe. The food was served on real china, you ate with real silverware, and if you ordered a fountain beverage, you drank from glass glasses. They had plastic (reusable) utensils, plates and glasses for kids. Portion sizes were always perfect and I could finish a meal without feeling stuffed or leaving anything on the plate. The only disposable product I remember were paper napkins, but I carry a cloth napkin in my bag, so I never used them.

    About a month ago, I was shopping and went to the cafe to get lunch. I was very disappointed to find that they are using plastic and paper - plates, utensils, cups, everything. I'd already ordered my meal when I saw the difference, so I felt like I had to take it. It may have been my imagination, but I thought the food tasted less appealing, too.

    I asked someone why the switch to disposable products and was told that "some customers were concerned that the industrial dishwashers used in the cafe didn't clean dishes to the point that they were sanitized."

    I've left messages for the head of food services, and I hope that other people do as well, and they switch back.

  2. ML, maybe contact ikea directly to give them your feedback? There's nothing like going to the top to make sure you have been heard...
    I just had to read what you wrote again - some customers were concerned that the dishwashers designed to sanitize dishes weren't cleaning them well enough?? They are so full of it.
    Do you know if this is true of all ikea restaurants?

    I think that when we travel now, we will be making our restaurant decisions based on things like this...