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Lola’s Chicken Shack is a family run restaurant, serving specialty fried chicken from scratch in a casual, friendly environment. They are a local favorite, conducting about 200 transactions per day and employ 12 staff. They have a robust catering clientele and serve about 50% of their orders to-go. Customers place their order at the counter and seat themselves. Staff serves the food and busses the table.

Packaging practices prior to ReThink Disposable:

  • Disposable plastic cups offered for water
  • All high school students served in large disposable food boxes
  • Sugar packets, disposable plastic stir sticks and wrapped straws offered for coffee and cold drinks

Owners Mark and Nancy Rogers knew that their location near the local high school would present an interesting challenge. Service had to be quick and efficient, even as students and other customers formed a line out of the door at lunchtime. Students were served in large disposable food boxes to ensure a smooth lunch service. While other customers were served on reusable ceramic plates, with durable cutlery and napkins set at every table. The self-service area offered disposable plastic stir sticks, wrapped straws, and sugar packets. When the owners learned that they were using 52,430 disposable plastic water cups per year, they were ready to make the switch to reusable water glasses, yet they were also concerned about increased water usage due to additional dishwashing.

Recommendations implemented:

  • Reusable water cups replaced disposable water cups
  • Provided reusable spoons and bulk sugar dispensers for coffee and iced tea
  • Unwrapped straws in a dispenser replaced wrapped straws
  • Minimized disposable foodware for students
  • Eliminated disposable lids for students

The ReThink Disposable recommendations improved the dining room experience, saved staff time and streamlined the operation. The new reusable water glasses were an easy switch to make with a very low up front cost. Washing them requires only three additional loads and 5 extra gallons of water consumed in the dishwasher per day. The owners also appreciate the time and money they save now that they no longer have to order the disposable plastic cups.

The unwrapped straws in a dispenser with signage reading “Do you Really need a straw?” resulted in a surprising 43% reduction in straw usage! The owners have noticed that fewer straws and wrappers to sort out of bus tubs have led to a faster, streamlined dishwashing process. With the elimination of straw wrappers, stir sticks and sugar packets the self-service area looks clean and organized even when business is robust.

The owners were able to significantly minimize disposable foodware in the dining room for high school students. They replaced large to-go boxes with a smaller food tray, and eliminated disposable lids on items like mac and cheese. These simple changes save $1,458 and 573 lbs of waste annually.

The Bottom Line:

Increased water usage for the reusable cups was negligible
Increased operational efficiency (saved staff time)
Improved dining experience (less mess)
Business has increased by 40%- with no increased trash

65,022 disposable items reduced per year              
$3,205 annual savings after payback period
1,400 pounds of waste reduced annually

There is less trash in the self service area due to straw and sugar wrappers, and no more overfilled garbage cans... In a nutshell, it’s a win, win, win. It’s a win for the planet, a monetary win for me, and an operational win.

Mark Rogers, Owner

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