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Business Observer Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 5 days ago

First Watch kicks plastic straws to the curb

The daytime dining concept announced a partnership that will provide sustainable straws instead.

Throwing shade to nonsustainable practices, First Watch is switching to phade. 

The daytime breakfast-brunch-lunch dining concept based in Bradenton recently partnered with Georgia-based WinCup Inc. in an environmentally conscious step: A partnership between the two entities will do away with the restaurant’s 30 million plastic straws it averages each year and instead replace those with phade, a sustainable straw. 

According to a press release from First Watch, the WinCup phade straws naturally break down in the ocean within a few months. So far, the straws have been incorporated into two of the restaurant’s markets, with the intention of going national in the next two months. 

“First Watch is committed to doing the right thing for the communities we serve, and a big part of that is giving our teams and customers the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Matt Eisenacher, First Watch senior VP of brand strategy and innovation, says in the release. “Several years ago, we started offering plastic straws only by request. Now, we’re taking that next step by responsibly sourcing a straw that degrades naturally within months rather than several decades. In markets where we tested the new straws, our customers raved about them and preferred them over other renewable alternatives like paper straws.”

The phade straws are constructed from natural, raw materials that shorten the amount of time they stay in the environment. The straws become a food source for bacteria due to its organic, plant-based makeup, the release states.   

“We are thrilled to partner with First Watch to provide a sustainable resource for its restaurants as the company works to provide innovative options to their customers,” Michael Winters, WinCup president and chief revenue officer, says. “We know customers will be excited once they experience phade as an alternative to traditional plastic straws that harm the environment and paper straws that create a poor customer experience. It’s an honor for us to be a part of First Watch’s progress toward creating a more sustainable future.” 

This isn’t the first step First Watch has made toward sustainable practices. The company, according to the statement, uses 100% recyclable to-go paper bags and containers made from 90% post-consumer waste fibers, as well as napkins made with 100% recycled paper. 

“With our home office located in Florida — not too far from our coastal beaches and state parks — we are proud to do our part to protect the environment,” Eisenacher says. “Though our work is ongoing and we still have far to go, we see this as a critical step along our journey to minimizing our plastic footprint.”

The breakfast, brunch and lunch concept just went public last year, the first major company to do so in the Sarasota-Bradenton region in 15 years. The company's shares debuted on the Nasdaq Oct. 1, under the symbol FWRG, for First Watch Restaurant Group. It posted $592.34 million in revenue in 2021, up 75.54% from $337.43 million in 2020.

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