Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 8-11 The Restaurant Vs the Patron

Today I talk to the owner of the LA Cafe. He said something startling to me. He would love for all of his customers to be like me because that would cut down on half his costs. Half his costs!? wow, I had no idea it was that much. For a while, I was all about blaming the restaurant and the availability of cheap disposables, but his comment got me thinking. He would love to cut back but customers demand it. They need the bags, and plastic containers, handful of napkins, etc. And he has to buy it and give it to them just to survive. So who is more to blame? The restaurant or the patron?

I decided to probe a little deeper. Is trash really half your costs? "Well, actually NYC rent is 40%, then employment is 30%, insurance 10%, food x%, disposables actually around 6%". 6%? That doesn't seem like much. Back to square one. His focus is on rent and employment - if those fluctuate, there goes his business. Trash was obviously a small part of the equation, and not really on his mind. They could put twice as many napkins in my bag and it would hardly make a difference.

Maybe if the economics were really that it were half his costs, than he would look at alternative or reduced packaging techniques.

And have Americans become accustomed to using so many napkins because they were given to us in the first place? Just like Starbucks, we only became addicted to coffee when we found it on every corner. Now we are addicted to the java jacket, the lid, the stirring spoon, and don't forget the napkins.


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