Restaurant Owner McLoone Takes A Stand Against Straws

July 31, 2018
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By Chris Rotolo | 

Restaurateur Tim McLoone stands proudly in the dining room of Rum Runner in Sea Bright with a batch of paper straws, part of his campaign to make his 11 shore-area establishments safer for the environment. Photo by Chris Rotolo

SEA BRIGHT – One of New Jersey’s most prominent restaurateurs is joining the fight against throw-away plastics.

Tim McLoone, the owner of 11 shore-area dining establishments, has pledged to stop offering plastic straws to his customers, save for use by individuals with special needs and children. Any other customers who request a straw with their beverage will be offered a paper version.

“We have five restaurants right on the water, three of them in Monmouth County, so I think that we have a certain responsibility to do our part,” said McLoone, who owns Rum Runner in Sea Bright, as well as McLoone’s Pier House in West Long Branch and Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park.

It’s part of McLoone’s broader effort to have his New Jersey and Maryland business operations be more accountable to the environment.

“I’ve asked Clean Ocean Action to come in and provide a green restaurant audit. I want to know what all of my sins are in detail and then I want to make my sins public so other business owners and restaurant owners can learn. Be brutal and we’ll tell everyone,” McLoone said.

According to Cindy Zipf, COA executive director, the survey will not only provide a list of products and practices that have been proven harmful to the environment, but also a series of alternatives that will replace older methods.

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The audit’s design is based on the Oceanic Standard, a step-by-step guide for restaurants, event venues, hotels, bars and nightlife venues to adopt sustainable practices that empower consumers to make conscious choices while meeting both business and environmental needs.

“It’s not just the removal of straws,” Zipf said. “We couldn’t have a better spokesperson or leader working with us, because Tim is taking this approach to his entire organization. And as we go through this journey together, we’re hoping to produce a model that other restaurants can use.”

Zipf said the objective of the audit is to create a plan that is sustainable and able to be replicated, a formula that could resonate with business owners around the world.

“It’s all about sustainability. To sustain an effort like this you need a blueprint in place. And with Tim leading the way, we’ll be able to create one and share it,” Zipf said. “We think this could be a very impactful endeavor and we’re very excited to get started.”

“We live in a very competitive area for restaurants and my hope is that other owners will feel challenged by the information that comes out of our audit and the changes that we make,” McLoone said. “We need to be more conservative with our garbage. We need to get back to a place where people feel bad about litter and pollution.”

According to Rachel Ganley, McLoone’s Restaurants director of marketing and events, the Rum Runner in Sea Bright will be the pilot location for this audit and the proving ground where this sharable blueprint will be built.

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“Some initiatives, like the change in straws, have already taken place, but other changes will not be immediately visible,” Ganley said. “Clean Ocean Action will be analyzing our current plastic usage, as well as other aspects of the operation like soaps, detergents and other cleaning products.”

Zipf said COA will also be assessing Rum Runner employee awareness of the single-use plastic issue and other environmental challenges, in order to prepare the staff to speak with customers about the changes being implemented.

McLoone cited other local initiatives like townwide efforts taking place in Atlantic Highlands and nearby Monmouth Beach – a municipality that passed a progressive ordinance in May banning single-use plastic straws, bags and containers by local businesses and restaurants – as the push he needed to finally take action.

“I’ll be the first to say that we’re not the first to be taking this step. Others are already doing it. And I actually feel bad that it’s taken this long to get things moving. But it’s something we’ve been talking about for months and it’s time to start doing our part,” McLoone said.


This article was first published in the July 26-Aug. 2, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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