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San Clemente Journal

‘Surfrider Foundation’ Program Names Ocean-Friendly Restaurants

Dec 05, 2019 01:35PM ● By Rebecca Parsons

Antoine's Café on el Camino REal

by Rebecca Parsons

Sustainability, eco-friendly, renewable and green are all buzzwords that have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the pressing needs of our planet. Recently, the Surfrider Foundation has added another word to the growing list: ocean-friendly.
The Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization that works to protect and preserve the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches has established an “Ocean-Friendly Restaurant Program” in an effort to combat plastic pollution. 

It is estimated that there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean and that number is only growing. Plastics break down into microplastics, which are eventually ingested by seabirds, dolphins, fish, turtles and even plankton (the base of the marine food chain). The Surfrider Foundation believes we need to stop the problem at its source and through their Ocean-Friendly Restaurants Program they hope to raise awareness, drive change, and ultimately reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.

The goal of the program is to steer restaurants towards more sustainable choices that are better for the ocean and the planet. In order to qualify as an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant, the businesses must pledge to use less plastic and must meet five main criteria.

Ocean-Friendly Restaurants must not use any polystyrene (aka Styrofoam). They must be following proper recycling practices. Foodware used for onsite dining must be reusable. Plastic bags are not provided nor offered for take out or to-go orders and utensils are only provided upon request. Lastly, paper straws are only provided upon request.

In addition to the five required criteria, restaurants in the program must meet two or more criteria from an additional list. They can choose to have no beverages sold in plastic bottles. They can offer a discount to customers who bring in their own reusable cup, container or bag. They can regularly offer vegetarian/vegan food options. They can exclusively offer seafood that is certified sustainable or that is defined as ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ by Seafood Watch. They can implement water conservation and pollution mitigation efforts. Or they can consciously implement energy efficiency efforts. If a restaurant meets all of the criteria, they are recognized as a Platinum Level Ocean-Friendly Restaurant. 

 While a number of restaurants in San Clemente incorporate sustainable practices into their business, there are four that are officially certified as Ocean-Friendly Restaurants.

HH Cottons
Founded in 2015 as a tribute to San Clemente founders Ole Hanson and Hamilton H. Cotton, HH Cottons is a full service restaurant and bar that serves up traditional American food. In addition to meeting the five required criteria, HH Cottons regularly offers vegetarian/vegan options. They use LED lighting and Energy Star appliances in an effort to conserve energy. Low-flow faucets and toilets are also used to help conserve water. Lastly, none of the beverages at the restaurant are sold in plastic bottle. 

The Cellar
Located on Del Mar, The Cellar offers fine dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an onsite cheese shop. In addition to the five required criteria, The Cellar serves only certified sustainable seafood or seafood that has been given the ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ label by Seafood Watch. They also provide a number of vegetarian/vegan friendly options and refrain from selling beverages in plastic bottles. Additionally, they offer a discount to customers that bring in a reusable cup, mug, or bag. In an effort to conserve water, they use low-flow faucets and toilets. 

Antoine’s Café
Founded in 1991, Antoine’s Café has been a go-to breakfast and lunch spot among locals for years. In addition to meeting the five required criteria, Antoine’s regularly offers vegetarian/vegan option and none of their beverages are sold in plastic bottles. All of their seafood is certified sustainable or is defined as ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ Seafood Watch. They offer customers a discount for bringing in a reusable cup, mug, or bag. Lastly, they use LED lights and Energy Star appliances to help conserve energy. 

Rocco’s Restaurant
Owned and operated by master chef Rocco Carbonara and his wife Belkis, Rocco’s serves up a mix of European and Italian cuisine made from fresh ingredients. 
In addition to meeting the five required criteria, Rocco’s proudly serves seafood that is certified sustainable or has been given the ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ label by Seafood Watch. They also have a number of vegetarian/vegan food options on their menu. 

There are approximately 400 Ocean-Friendly Restaurants across the United States and between them; they serve roughly 160,000 plastic free meals daily. In addition to minimizing plastic use, Ocean-Friendly Restaurants are serving as an example inspiring their customers to refuse single-use plastics, seek out businesses that align with their values and ultimately are driving the industry towards more sustainable practices.
If interested in applying to be an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant, visit the Surfrider Foundation’s website for details.