July 23, 2020
In 2014, Long Island residents Michelle Walrath and Fran Paniccia were accompanying their daughters—best friends since nursery school—on a teenybopper concert tour through the tri-state area. But somewhere between singing along with Taylor Swift and swaying to One Direction, they hit upon a problem: the ladies were hungry and couldn’t find a place to eat. Where, they wondered, were all the fast-casual spots offering healthy food?
Fast forward to 2015 and the two entrepreneurs were opening Organic Krush’s flagship location in Woodbury, New York: A healthy eatery offering delicious food—free of pesticides, hormones, and GMOs—that any parent would feel comfortable serving to their families. Today, there are six locations from New York to Virginia, and each spot offers: “100% organic food to our community and inspires a higher level of health.”
When they first brainstormed Organic Krush, Fran and Michelle also made a commitment to creating an environmentally-friendly restaurant. The decision was very on-brand; in 2010, they created a documentary called Tapped, which explored the harm of plastic and bottled water on the environment. Prior to that, the duo blogged about taking daily steps to reduce personal plastic use, raised awareness around GMOs, and created viral videos that brought attention to problems in the food supply chain.
Along the way, they also discovered nurdles or “mermaid’s tears” — tiny plastic pellets of waste created when plastic products are manufactured and never decompose. The tiny bits of plastic are often ingested by marine life and, later, by seafood-eating humans. Horrified by this chain and hoping to limit their contribution to the problem, Michelle and Fran decided to reduce Organic Krush’s use of plastic.
Their environmentally-friendly business plan—which has been in place since day one—includes using glass bottles instead of plastic, compostable cutlery and to-go containers, compostable straws, paper cups (never styrofoam!), and paper to-go bags. They also serve customers who dine in with reusable plates and bowls.
These extensive efforts were recently recognized by the Surfrider Foundation, an organization “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.” The foundation—which fights for the reduction of plastic in marine environments, equal beach access, coastal preservation, ocean protection, and clean water—awarded Organic Krush with a platinum-level Ocean Friendly Restaurant certification.
If you’re a business owner hoping to follow in Organic Krush’s footsteps, meeting the ocean-friendly criteria might seem like an inconceivable leap. But Michelle has some advice: “If you can’t imagine doing all of the things at once, choose one aspect you can tackle. Maybe it’s removing plastic bags and Ziploc from your life the first month and eliminating straws the next. Maybe it’s Meatless Monday the first year, and then 75% organic/grass-fed proteins, growing your own vegetables the following years.”
Going forward, Fran and Michelle plan to keep making Organic Krush’s environmental impact lighter and their food cleaner. They have goals of working with local, organic farms to source the majority of their produce, using completely recycled content for their to-go wares, and opening locations on college campuses.
We’re so proud to work with Organic Krush, as their vision is very much aligned with Ace’s own triple bottom business line model. If you, too, want to support Organic Krush and their mission, we suggest stopping by, ordering to-go, or getting delivery from one of their locations.
Thanks for all that you do, Organic Krush!
P.s. All of the mask-less photos in this post were taken pre-COVID. Please save lives and wear your mask!