Going Strawless

I am starting a new job at a hotel with three outlets.  The company is very interested in being strawless.  I'm very on board with this for all of the earth-friendly reasons. Do any of you also run a strawless program?  What is your advice on things like:

Negative Guest Feedback

Bartenders needing to straw-test cocktails

Staff training without straws

Do you suffer heavy losses if you use metal straws?

Also, how many restaurants do you know of in your market that are strawless?

  • There's good work being done in Seattle around compostable straws, on a somewhat related note. We could probably do better at paying attention to which categories of drinks nearly always end up with straws on the bread plate within a few seconds. 

  • As of late 2018 Landrys went “strawless”. While they still carry straws in house and are available upon request, they're not served with drinks unsolicited. Landrys is fairly substantial in size with restaurants (and casinos) ranging from Mastros & Mortons to Bubba Gump Shrimp & Claim Jumper and everything in between. I believe Landrys decision will streamline the comfort of going “strawless” to the mass’ of landlocked cities and people will adapt to the notion fairly quickly. Specifically to Mastros, we maybe get a guest or two monthly who will put up a momentary fuss. We still use them for staff training and for bartenders during service.

  • We switched to metal straws about 8 months ago; our guests never even noticed.  Bartenders still use them to straw taste, and the key there is knowing how many straws you're going to use in an evening and having at least that many straws on hand.  It is a little bit of extra work at the end of the night to scrub them out and ensure they're properly sanitized, but compared to what we were spending on compostable straws the entire set paid for themselves in about 3 weeks.

    We haven't had any issue with loss of metal straws from theft or otherwise; we did switch from gold-plated to stainless steel cocktail picks for that reason, however.

  • How about compostable straws only available upon request?

  • Interesting statistic is that once we switched from plastic golf club stir sticks/straws to biodegradeable straws, I stopped all straw service and haven’t heard one peep.

  • We do paper straws only by request.  For the bar team, we have a set of metal straws at the bar that they clean and maintain themselves.  Guests often ask for straws, but aren't upset as long as we have a paper option to offer them.  We've run this way since opening, about 15 months ago.

  • I am based out of Seattle and to side bar what Nathan said, we do have straw's but they are all vegetables based so they are fully Compostable. Also as a company we do not place any straw in drinks unless guest requests it. 

  • Hello all,

    I work in Mid-town Manhattan and our company made the switch to stainless steel about a year ago.  I was surprised at how few people ask for straws now.  We do about 120 covers each lunch and almost everyone has ice tea or diet coke...or some form of drink.  I would guess that maybe 1-2 tables will ask for a straw.  Personally I thought it would be much higher.  People don't seem to mind with cocktails either and almost always say something positive about the "fancy" straw if they request one.  We keep a sanitizing pan and a polisher is responsible for inside brisling etc.  The set we bought had all cleaning brushes included.  I would guess we are saving massive amounts of money for something that was just being thrown away.  Also feels like the right thing to do and helps to shift peoples mind about what is important and why.  We do have stainless steel picks now for fruit and olives as well.

  • Hello! The restaurant I used to work in went strawless. There was some push back at first, but most customers understood and supported the move. We had metal straws at first, but disappeared pretty quickly. We just used compostable paper straws for  guests who really wanted one. They're just as good as plastic straws. Some staff would bring in metal straws for training or we'd use the paper ones. 

    I see more restaurants replacing plastic straws with paper versions and fewer getting totally rid of straws. More servers also ask if the guest would like a straw or waits until the guest asks.

  • Hakkasan Group US:

    Las Vegas restaurant market  - fine dining uses metal stir sticks for any OTR tall drinks, composting paper straws for crushed ice drinks and recycled wooden picks for garnishes. For nightclubs composting paper straws available upon request.

    California casual restaurant market made the switch years ago to reflect the community outreach programs already in place. The fine dining restaurant in San Fran transitioned without issue, except again for consistent availability, in 2018.

    Cabo/Waikiki/New York/Houston - transitioned end of 2018 to same procedure. 

    Miami - in talks with managing partners to transition in 2019

    The challenges are:

    1. The making of these products uses quite a bit of energy and the companies with larger production use materials that take almost as long to break down in the landfills. They are always trying to improve of course and it is more about awareness right now which our company supports.

    2. The quality of the product does not hold up in most drinks being consumed after 15-20 minutes. They becomes soggy and bend to the point of not being useful. Again this is for mass-produced products which our company needs to use for national-use purchases.

    3. People aren’t complaining, and if they do we offer plastic straws as last resort in Las Vegas. CA doesn’t not have the option.

    4. Biggest challenge we have seen in purchasing is consistent availability for our venues.

    5. Staff training was most critical in the nightclubs but it was more seamless than expected as they all cared about the afterglow of what this could do for our Planet in the long term.

    if you have any additional questions please reach out to me and I will connect you with our purchasing team.(apologies in advance for any typos as I’m writing from my phone on the plane:)

    kthomas@hakkasan.com