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Ocean Friendly Restaurants Spotlight: Crew

Crew is a New York City-based hospitality group of truly original restaurants all featuring strong maritime themes. Co-founded by brothers and lifelong sailors, Alex and Miles Pincus in 2014, Crew emphasizes a connection to the waterfront through its restaurants aboard historic ships and on the shore of New York Harbor but also through its partnership with a sailing school the brothers co-founded on the Hudson River.

Surfrider New York City is proud of Crew’s membership in the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program and as a partner in the work toward cleaner coasts. Read on for more from Alex Pincus about Crew and the work the Pincus brothers are doing in New York and beyond. And sign up here to  join the Surfrider New York City Chapter for an Environmental Happy Hour at Drift In on July 10th

Tell me about your five Ocean Friendly Restaurants? 

Grand Banks, Holywater, High Tide, Drift In and Pilot are all a part of Crew – a family owned and operated, maritime hospitality group. Crew is built on a simple premise: creating experiences that we love and sharing them with the world. Whether it’s sipping cocktails on a historic schooner overlooking New York Harbor (Grand Banks) or enjoying sustainable oysters in a cozy New Orleans hideaway (Seaworthy), we focus on making the places we wish existed. And as it turns out, all of these places are floating on the water, along the water's edge, or somehow influenced by maritime culture. 

Grand-Banks-4th-of-JulyGrand Banks During Fourth of July, Photos provided by Crew

The ocean is central to your business. Can you share more about how?

We came to the restaurant world via our love for the water and old boats, and our restaurants serve a menu built around sustainably-sourced seafood, so it makes sense to us – both morally and financially – to preserve and protect the ocean however we can.  

Lobster-Roll-High-ResLobster Roll, Photos provided by Crew

How did you learn about Surfrider and come to join the OFR program? 

Crew tends to attract folks interested in the water, so naturally we have had a number of surfers on our team. One of them was a member of Surfrider and organized a local chapter happy hour at one of our restaurants. And that’s where we heard about the OFR program. We were already doing pretty much everything within the OFR standards so it was an easy lift to join and lend our support to the cause. 

Grand-Banks-OystersGrand Banks Oysters, Photos provided by Crew

Tell me about your commitment to sustainability. Why is it important for your restaurants to be "ocean friendly"?

Crew is dedicated to sustainability on all fronts. We build our menus around under-utilized fish species, oysters raised by ecologically-minded growers, and seasonal, local produce. We recycle our used oyster shells to make new oyster reefs in New York Harbor, convert our cooking oil to biodiesel, have eliminated single use plastics, and work to reduce food waste wherever possible. With efforts led by our culinary director, Kerry Heffernan, Crew spearheaded an industry-wide campaign against serving striped bass and continues to push for the protection of other at-risk species. 

We also fundraise and advocate for non-profits focused on food security, environmental restoration, and maritime preservation. Since 2014, we’ve raised over a million dollars for these initiatives by soliciting funds and donating our goods and services.

Groups we actively support include Surfrider, City Harvest, Charity Water, Billion Oyster Project, Natural Areas Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Waterkeeper Alliance, Hudson River Park Friends, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and Mystic Seaport Museum.

Drift-In-SunsetDrift In at Sunset, Photos provided by Crew

What kind of reception do you get from the public regarding that commitment?

I don’t know for certain, but I think very few people come to our restaurants strictly because of our approach to sustainability. But it still has an effect! The majority of our guests love their experiences with us, and we think that the fairy dust of being conscientious citizens rubs off on them a little. Most importantly, by creating an opportunity for people to reconnect with the waterfront, we’re providing a framework through which people can re-imagine how they engage with nature and what that means today, particularly in an urban waterfront environment. 

Drift-In-CocktailsDrift In Cocktails, Photos provided by Crew

What have you learned about running OFRs that you might share with restaurant groups that might be interested but aren't sure how to make it work, especially in NYC?

First and foremost, it’s easy! Everything that the OFR guidelines suggest are no-brainers for how a restaurant should operate.

Pilot-Bar-AnglePilot Bar, Photos provided by Crew

Anything upcoming this summer you'd like to plug? 

Pilot, our floating restaurant in Brooklyn Heights turns 100 this year. A century for a wooden-boat is truly an eternity and an act of preservation worth celebrating. Come aboard for oysters and cocktails and views, views, views; and do so knowing that you are supporting a cleaner waterfront, maritime preservation, and a holistic approach to sustainability.  

Is your local restaurant Ocean Friendly?  If not, encourage them to sign up and join the movement to end single-use plastics!

Want to help Surfrider stop plastic pollution at the source? Consider donating today!