Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an entertaining event put on by the Surfrider Foundation of Newport. The event was a poetry reading from our new Newport Surfrider Foundation Chair, Scott Rosin, “Tell ‘Em We’re Surfing.” Before the poetry reading began, our local Oregon Field Manager, Bri Goodman talked about the location of our event, Bosque Café. (Bosque is Spanish for forest and Bosque Café is nestled in a forest near Oregon Coast Community College). I was not aware Newport, Oregon had a restaurant that met the Platinum requirements of the Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Restaurant program and a restaurant that is almost certified as zero-waste! To be a Platinum Ocean Friendly Restaurant you have to meet the requirements below and Bosque Café goes above and beyond these requirements!
- No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).
- Proper recycling practices are followed.
- Only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining, and disposable utensils for takeout food are provided only upon request.
- No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders.
- Straws are provided only upon request.
- No beverages sold in plastic bottles.
- Discount is offered for customers with reusable cup, mug, bag, etc.
- Vegetarian/vegan food options are offered on a regular basis
- All seafood must be a ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch or certified as sustainable.
- Water conservation efforts, such as low-flow faucets and toilets, are implemented.
- Energy efficiency efforts such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, are in place.
After hearing this, I had to meet the owners and understand why take this huge risk in starting a brand-new business and in such a small community, (there are only 10,000 residents in Newport.) When I met Ed and Hidi Cortes, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hidi is Vietnamese and grew up in California in Orange County (just like me) and Ed is Mexican with an IT background (also like me). I felt I had met my long-lost sister and brother. They have lived in Newport for thirteen years and explained to me it has always been important to them to live a sustainable life, trying to buy local or grow local vegetables, fruits, meats and fish. Reducing their footprint on this earth and ensuring they had as little waste as possible.
Cortes Family at the new Bosque Café
Let’s spend a little time understanding why zero waste is so important and how cool it is that Ed and Hidi are trying to execute this concept here in Newport. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, households and businesses threw away 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. A 2014 study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of; 14.3% is recycled, and only 1.4% is donated. Landfilled food provides ready fuel for methane gas production — the most environmentally destructive greenhouse gas linked to global warming. In addition to food wastes, there is plastic and inedible items that don’t biodegrade and wash into our ocean and beach shores. There has been so much discussion on what do we do about the 1.2 trillion tons of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean and most scientist say the best thing is how do we reduce our dependence on plastic and stop throwing plastics away.
This is what Ed and Hidi are trying to do! At Bosque there will be the right size of consumable portions, so you don’t have left overs you throw away. There will not be take away drink or food containers that will be thrown away at home. They ask you consider bringing your own if you are in a hurry and can’t enjoy their relaxing atmosphere. In the future they will have reusable non-plastic containers for purchase.
Hidi grew up in a family that owned multiple restaurants, eating eclectic foods and combining different ethnic foods to create a new culinary fare. For example, blending foods and spices from Mexico and Vietnam like creating an Asian version of the tortilla. It really resonated with me, as I do this all the time and my husband looks at me with a particular look when he sees Soy Sauce going into the Bolognese Sunday Gravy Sauce.
Hidi loves to cook, has always wanted to open her own restaurant and there are zero Vietnamese Restaurants in Newport. The Cortes family thought this was the perfect time. In wanting to be sustainable and fresh, Vietnamese was a perfect choice since it is known for its healthy cuisine and it works well to make vegetarian and vegan options out of traditional Vietnamese favorites. What is really exciting is Hidi wants to push her culinary creativity so each month you will see specials in other global traditions that may have a little Vietnamese influence. I’m dying to try her take on curry that she has transformed from all the different countries that create curries, she described to me during our interview.
I asked Ed why he chose his location adjacent to Oregon Coast Community College. A restaurant like this would get a lot more traffic and be more successful in Nye Beach or on the Bay Front. Ed is an ultra-runner and runs in the woods near Oregon Coast Community College and when he saw the opportunity to launch a restaurant and café in his favorite running area they decided to take the plunge! Also, he wants to help support the students (OCCC students get 10% discount) and bring more options to the growing community in South Beach. Everyone will be pleasantly surprised on the nice size portions for the price! They are in process of getting their liquor license so currently you will need to go upstairs to the Wolf Tree Brewery Taproom for those options.
They are excited to open their café and restaurant to organizations for events, like the one we just had with Surfrider. The space is clean, bright and inviting. Ed has lots of ideas and plans you will see in the future to bring some exciting local art and technology to the forefront, be sure to keep coming by often! As I discussed earlier growing their own local vegetables is important to the Cortes Family; therefore, you will see a full hydroponics system in the restaurant in the near future. They also make their own fresh soy and almond milk. For those of you in town October 14th at 2pm, is the official Grand Opening, make sure you come by and support an amazing family, restaurant and try the scrumptious Vietnamese food!