Fort Bragg Orders Restaurants to Use Plastic Dishware, Cutlery

Imagine walking in to a posh restaurant and ordering a $40 steak, only to be served on a Dixie plate with a plastic fork and knife. In Fort Bragg, that boorish nightmare is now reality.

Thanks to a Sept. 30 emergency order, restaurants and hotels in the coastal city must use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. The aim is to cut back on water use by minimizing dishwashing in restaurants which, along with residents and other businesses, have been ordered to slash water use by 30 percent.

Restaurant owners are predictably displeased.

“You might be able to cut a filet mignon with a plastic knife, but you are not going to cut a New York,” said Jim Hurst, co-owner of Silvers at the Wharf and Point Noyo Restaurant and Bar. “The expense is going to be horrendous, I would expect. So that’s going to be a major impact. It seems to me there are other ways to save water.”

A “Stage 3” water emergency was declared in Fort Bragg after the Noyo River got so low that water began leaking into city pipes. 

“The Noyo is a critical component of our water supply, and it is too salty to use. The flows are so low, it’s off charts,” said Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing. “We have to lower our water use to the absolute minimum.”

Even so, outrage surrounding the new rules has not been lost on city officials. Ruffing said the city council may consider loosening the restaurant restrictions at its meeting next week. 

Read more about the emergency order here.

Image Credit: Flickr User 20026844916, via (CC BY-SA 2.0)