Posted by: admin | September 17, 2009

Doc Ford’s Accelerates Green Efforts

Although a well-known song suggests “It’s not easy being green,” there are three popular local restaurants that are gladly giving it their best shot—and they’re succeeding.

Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille and the recently opened Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille under the Matanzas Pass Bridge and The Beached Whale at Fort Myers Beach have been making a concentrated effort to “go green” and do their part to preserve and protect the environment. All restaurants continue to recycle used items and they are replacing “unfriendly” products they pass on to patrons with more eco-acceptable substitutes.  The Doc Ford’s Sanibel staff has spent the past few months testing green cups and containers to find those that are both environmentally sound and customer friendly. They are phasing out plastic bags and providing reusable green ones with the Doc Ford’s logo, and automatic hand dryers have replaced paper towel dispensers in the restrooms.

“We are on our way to being fully green,” said manager Jean Crenshaw. “We recently got rid of our Styrofoam containers and drink glasses. Now we have sugar cane pulp to-go boxes. They’re completely biodegradable, so we switched. Our to-go glasses are cardboard glass now—fully biodegradable. Even our garbage bags—we changed to a vegetable oil-blend garbage bag.”

The staff tried out several products to see which ones best maintained food quality. “It took a lot of research to find the right to-go boxes,” Crenshaw said. “Of course, they make plastic ones, but is everyone going to recycle them? A lot of take-out orders (on Sanibel) are from people on vacation, so they’re not set up to recycle, so we decided to go with these paper pulp to-go boxes.”

According to Crenshaw, going green has been a group effort that has involved the owners, managers and staff at all three restaurants.  ”We all team together and think of different ways to do things to help the environment,” she said.  “All of us definitely care, and (being) on coastal communities, I think we’re a little more environmentally friendly and we care a little more about our surroundings here. (Server) Kevin Filliowich and (hostess) Bette Roberts have been in the paper for their (environmental) efforts. They’re all about the earth and different things we can do, so they’re always coming up to us with ideas, things we can do to help make a difference.”

Elizabeth Harris and Greg Barker of Doc Ford's Sanibel are happy to be participating in the green efforts.

Elizabeth Harris and Greg Barker of Doc Ford's Sanibel are happy to be participating in the green efforts.

Crenshaw hopes that Sanibel businesses continue their efforts to protect the planet. “I think everyone on the island is doing their part,” she said. “There’s a lot more everyone can do, but I’ve noticed when I go into other places that other people are doing things. I don’t think that people feel pressure to do it; I think more or less the businesses want to help participate, they want to make things better, but hopefully, Doc Ford’s is a leader and making things better for the environment.”

The Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach and the Beached Whale locations have joined their sister restaurant on Sanibel in its going green campaign. “We’re recycling all of our bottles and all of our cardboard,” said general manager Dan Howes. “We’re trying to cut down on paper products and water waste and recycle when we can and buy recyclable products when we can. It’s the way of the future to be environmentally conscious. I think everybody should start looking to be that way, and our owners feel that way, and they want to help however they can.”

Marty Harrity and his wife, Brenda, are part-owners of the restaurants, and Harrity is pleased to see his establishments taking these eco-responsible steps.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We live in an environmentally-sensitive area, and it would just appear that everybody should join that kind of a bandwagon. We’ve been recycling trash and glass and cardboard for years. Now we even recycle our cooking oil. The used oil gets processed into fuel for the trucks that deliver the new cooking oil!  Again, as we look at what we do from a business standpoint, we try to do the right thing all the time.”
When the Doc Ford’s and Beached Whale teams researched Styrofoam replacements, they went with a more expensive container instead of one that cost less but didn’t preserve food as well.  “It’s a never ending program of just constantly looking at the stuff that you buy and making sure you’re making the right decisions when it comes to the environment,” Harrity said. “Anytime we look at a product, we look at how it can best suit the area and be environmentally friendly. But, it has to be consumer friendly also.”

As long-time Sanibel residents, Marty Harrity and his wife plan to continue to help an important cause that means a lot to them. “We’ve been a part of this community for 20 years,” Harrity said. “It’s a very special place and we want to make sure that it stays as special as it’s always been.”

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