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An Ocean-Friendly & Great Lakes-Friendly Tour

Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Programs Manager, CJ O’Brien has been busy attending the National Restaurant Association Show and visiting chapters in Rincon, Puerto Rico, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois to support their Ocean Friendly and Great Lakes Friendly Restaurants programs. 

Puerto Rico

PR OFR-2-1In Puerto Rico, CJ along with other Surfrider staff and the Rincon Chapter ate at Mimosa Brunch: Farm to Table. Their fresh ingredients and commitment to using locally grown ingredients was inspiring. We discussed challenges, such as the lack of alternatives to single-use plastics available on the island and the push to postpone a country-wide single-use plastics ban.

Thankfully, the chapter is actively fighting this postponement and continues to educate policymakers and restaurants. We are also working with a local distributor to provide non-plastic takeout items to restaurants at a discounted rate.


ChicagoIn Chicago, CJ attended the National Restaurant Association Show, the largest annual foodservice industry gathering in the Western hemisphere. Over 58,000 people from the foodservice industry attended this year! There, she met existing corporate partners in person, chatted with restaurants, and secured more exclusive discounts for sustainable foodware products for our OFR/GLRs. We are hoping to host a booth there next year!

She also met up with the Surfrider Chicago Chapter for some deep dish pizza! The chapter is interested in growing the GLFR program and has a meeting lined up with other community groups working with restaurants.


OHIn Ohio, CJ, Sarah, the Great Lakes Regional Manager, and the Northern Ohio Chapter walked from restaurant to restaurant to eat and talk to them about the GLFR program. Together they practiced talking to restaurants and were able to talk through any challenges they’ve experienced when recruiting new restaurants. Since our visit they’ve added a new GLFR to the program!