I travel quite a bit this time of year. Hotels are a regular part of the experience and often, I end up eating at least one meal in the hotel restaurant. Recently, I experienced something new. I had to ask for a straw each time I ordered a drink. The server would have to bring me a straw from the bar clear on the other side of the restaurant. She probably didn’t like me very much. It was kind of a big deal.
I'm not going to kid you, I'm a big fan of straws. I am prone to being clumsy and apt to spill something on myself, so straws are just a good idea. I always ask for one, dining in or on the go. What might surprise you, I was basically okay with the fact that this restaurant only offered straws to those patrons who asked. Why? Because I could still get one when I wanted it.
That might sound a little funny, but recently, we have encountered backlash from environmental groups and others who feel straws are superfluous and unnecessary items that just end up being littered.
All too often, we see legislation or regulation spring forth without the input of operator and consumer choice. Ultimately, that's who should be making the decisions for restaurants, the operators and their consumers, not government through the implementation of bans.
As an operator, it should be your right to offer a straw to patrons for service in-house and to-go. As a consumer, you can bet I'm going to want one, but there are other reasons why consumers might want one – what about people who don't want to put their lips on a potentially unclean glass? What about consumers who may have physical impairments and require the use of a straw to drink? Anyone travel through a drive thru with a three year old before?
Whatever the reasoning behind the use of straws, we never want to see them end up as litter. We know through our friends at Keep America Beautiful, the vast majority of litter happens as a result of someone purposely littering. As many of you know, litter is something we feel strongly about here at FPI and we always encourage the proper use and disposal of all foodservice packaging.
So, while it might not be a deal for the server at that hotel restaurant to have to haul a straw clear across the floor to suit my needs, I'm darn glad she did it. In my opinion, one of the greatest things about being a consumer is having so many choices. I hope I always get to have that.