Environmental responsibility within our restaurants

Take a look at the art and photography around  the Black Whale sometime. Can you tell that we're inspired by the natural world? From far off shores to our own Island, it's why we're here.

 This is why we're here. Photo: Ann Coen

This is why we're here. Photo: Ann Coen

 

When we ride our bikes south through Beach Haven toward Holgate, when we look out from Mud City and Old Causeway across the marsh, or gaze over the bay from Parker’s Garage… when we walk up 18th St. from Ship Bottom Shellfish to check the waves, we appreciate where we live.

Every time. 

Our lives and our eateries here in the Long Beach Island region are built on our love of this environment – long walks to the tip of Holgate, fall striper fishing, early morning summer surfs with our kids, and endless days crabbing on the bay. 

 Fresh soft shells, right from our bay. Photo: Kyle Gronostajski

Fresh soft shells, right from our bay. Photo: Kyle Gronostajski

 

This area is almost entirely supported by the influx of visitors that come all year round, but particularly in the summer. Long Beach Island’s reputation is built on our amazing waterways. And the health of these waterways is what has attracted families for so many decades. And that is why we are committed to doing our part for our local environment.

Who would have ever thought a straw would make such an impact? It seems harmless enough. But a reported 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded in the US every day. The ones that actually make it to the landfill will never break down. And the rest find their way into our woods and waterways. 

 Photo: Gronostaski   

Photo: Gronostaski

 

It’s such a simple thing. 

We started serving drinks with paper straws at all of our restaurants. And that has led to so much great dialogue around town. Plus, with so much of our seafood sourced locally, why would we ever jeopardize the health of these waters?

In fact, we’ve been working on a whole list of changes to make our restaurants more eco-friendly. And as it turns out, the Surfrider Foundation has declared Old Causeway and Parker's Garage official Ocean-Friendly Restaurants.

Last year, the Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the oceans, waves and beaches through its activist network, set forth criteria for Ocean-Friendly restaurants. 

 Photo: Ann Coen

Photo: Ann Coen

 

“I was super stoked to see Old Causeway and Parker's sign up. We didn’t even approach them. They heard about the program and did it on their own. Towns on Long Beach Island and businesses are stepping up and realizing this stuff is impacting them,” says Mid Atlantic Regional Manager, John Weber, of Bradley Beach, who added that he has long enjoyed our food and craft beers.

The base criteria were as follows:

1. No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).
2. Proper recycling practices are followed.
3. Only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining, and disposable utensils for takeout food are provided only upon request.
4. No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders.

In addition, to comply, we had to pick three additional criteria, several of which we were already doing. They included doing away with plastic straws, no beverages sold in plastic bottles, and vegetarian/vegan options. We also pay close attention to the sustainability of our seafood.

 

Using paper bags and not giving away needless plastic wear is easy. Mud City will be the next on our list for Ocean-Friendly status.

In addition, Old Causeway was the first restaurant in the area to take part in the Oyster Recycling Program with the Jetty Rock Foundation, Richard Stockton University, Long Beach Township and Parson’s Seafood. We put our shells aside and they’re brought to Tuckerton where they’re becoming part of a natural oyster reef and bringing the wild oyster population back to our bay. Now all five of our restaurants participate in the program.

“When people come to a town and they’re looking for a place to eat,” they can pull out their phone and find out where the closest ocean-friendly restaurant is,” says Weber.

He has seen eateries throughout the Mid-Atlantic take it upon themselves to be more eco-conscious and it's gaining momentum.

 Fresh local clams. Photo: Ann Coen

Fresh local clams. Photo: Ann Coen

 

We also took things a step farther last summer, as Parkers Garage entered into an oyster co-op partnership with Barnegat Oyster Collective. As filter feeders, oysters help to purify our waterways. They clean the bay, while producing food and reviving the bayman lifestyle here. We are the only restaurant in New Jersey cultivating its own signature oyster. 

In 2016, we stopped using chemical pesticides on the property of Mud City and Old Causeway, as our dog and some of our customers dogs love to run around here. We instead spray a combination of white vinegar, salt and dish soap.

We have long supported Alliance for A Living Ocean at the LBI Longboard Classic and the Mud Shuttle, which reduces the carbon footprint of all those additional cars driving to Old Causeway. 

Of course, we realize that there was more life in the bay back when we were growing up. Home fertilizers and over development are detrimental to the bay. But we’re seeing things get better. Our wetlands remain protected by the state. People are becoming more conscious. 2017 was a banner year for crabbing. 

We'll be working on our environmental practices at the Black Whale this year. Yes, we feel like we’re doing our part to protect what we love for future generations. We’re excited to see the business community here stepping up with us in these efforts. But at the end of the day, we see how grateful our customers are. People come out to support us because of these simple changes.

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As co-owner, Eric Magaziner puts it, “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying.”

It sounds cliché, but we only have one earth. We only have this bay and this amazing Atlantic Ocean. Any efforts now are to ensure that our children know the same good times of swimming, clamming and spotting dolphins in our waters.