After five years in business, Organic Krush, founded in 2015 by co-founders Michelle Walrath and Fran Panniccia, is now officially an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, in association with the Surfrider Foundation.
“We have been passionately dedicated to saving the Earth’s resources and preserving people’s health,” Walrath, who has been an active supporter of Surfrider throughout the years, says. The company’s existing ethos is rooted in serving all food—a predominantly plant-based menu—and juices in toxin free, biodegradable, or reusable glass containers. “Now with Surfrider’s platform, we can share those practices with even more persons, and inspire restaurants to prioritize these Earth-saving measures as well,” she adds.
According to surfrider.org, there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean and 8.75 million metric tons added each year. The impact of these numbers affects not only marine ecosystems but all wildlife, including humans who digest seafood that ingest said toxins. The Ocean Friendly Restaurant program aims to change that by increasing awareness and changing individual behavior, one restaurant a time.
All participating restaurants must meet at least five criteria—no use of Styrofoam, proper recycling, only reusable foodware for onsite dining, no plastic bag options for take-out with utensils only provided upon request, and paper straws only provided upon request. In addition, they must implement at least two additional practices—no plastic bottle beverages, discount for customers using reusable containers, regularly offer vegetarian/vegan food, water conservation and pollution mitigation efforts, and energy efficiency efforts.
Organic Krush has five Long Island locations, from Amagansett to Rockville Centre, with an additional storefront in Virginia. The Ocean Friendly Restaurant certificate solidifies a company-wide effort and promise to help the environment. Beyond company morale, which attracts likeminded customers dedicated to preserving the natural environment, Panniccia points out the benefit being eco-friendly has on business, from a cost perspective. “Since we have the same eco-friendly practices at all locations, it makes spreading the word even easier. We can get better pricing from vendors because we purchase in bulk for all of our restaurants,” she says. The restaurant is now one of three East End locations to be part of the program, including The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton and First and South in Greenport. The women hope that other restaurants will follow suit.
With Phase 2 now in full swing, Organic Krush has patios open for patrons. Its Plainview location even has a tent, so staff can serve guests rain or shine.