Styrofoam and plastics are disappearing from restaurants throughout the St. Petersburg area, and with Tangelo’s Grille leading the way, Gulfport is no different.
Tangelo’s, located in the heart of downtown Gulfport at 3121 Beach Blvd. S., signed on to the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program in November of 2018.
“Our area is so impacted by tourism, and this program gives the tourists a chance to find environmentally positive restaurants,” said Carrie Ruchdeschel, a volunteer with the Surfrider program.
The non-profit Surfrider Foundation identifies itself as a “passionate network” of grassroots activists “dedicated to the protection of our ocean, waves and beaches.” According to their website, surfrider.org, the organization, which has chapters active on national and local levels, began in 1984 “as a group of surfers that came together to protect Malibu from overdevelopment and pollution.”
So far, 400 ocean-friendly restaurants have joined the program, which is accessible to the public through an app.
Tangelo’s will be the first Gulfport business to participate.
“It’s definitely a good thing,” said Tangelo’s owner Lisa Brennan. “I got back from D.C., where everything is recyclable, and I think more places should be like that.”
Since November, the Gulfport restaurant has removed styrofoam, plastic bags and greatly reduced the use of straws.
In addition to replacing environmentally destructive items, Tangelo’s has begun offering vegan options, practicing water conservation and recycling.
“Our goal is to get rid of the worst offenders,” said Ruchdeschel. “The program has just started to take effect in Pinellas County and Tangelo’s is doing everything in its ability to recycle.”
Ruchdeschel pitched the idea of becoming part of the ocean-friendly program to Brennan during one of her weekly brunches at the restaurant.
“My family and I go to Tangelo’s every Sunday,” Ruchdeschel said. “I told Lisa about Surfrider and she was really excited about it.”
Over three months after that initial push, Tangelo’s is becoming more immersed in the green movement every day.
“We hope to push more Gulfport restaurants to follow Tangelo’s footsteps,” Ruchdeschel said.
To celebrate Tangelo’s smooth transition into ocean-friendly practices, the restaurant is hosting a party during the Gulfport Art Walk on Saturday, February 16, from 6 to 9 p.m., and will feature music, giveaways, dinner specials and a Surfrider booth.
“We’ve been here in Gulfport for eight years,” Brennan said. “We’re used to the people here, and we’re happy to do this.”
Interested? Check out “green” restaurants through the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program app at go.surfrider.org/ofr-app