Want a plastic straw? You’ll have to ask at some Pittsburgh restaurants |

Want a plastic straw? You’ll have to ask at some Pittsburgh restaurants

Dillon Carr
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Roland's Seafood Grill on May 30, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A menu from Roland’s Seafood Grill explains the restaurant’s policy on plastic straws.

If you don’t ask for a plastic drink straw, don’t expect to get one.

That’s the new policy at Roland’s Seafood Grill and Iron Landing in Pittsburgh’s Strip District — one in a growing movement of restaurants trying to prevent plastic waste from choking ocean habitats vital to the fresh seafood industry.

“We want to make sure the oceans are kept clean,” said Ryan Carrozzi, general manager at Roland’s.

The straws-upon-request policy is printed at the top of Roland’s menu: “500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone. In order to reduce the pollution of our oceans, we will not be automatically providing straws with beverages. Please ask a server or bartender if you would like a straw.”

Top chefs in Boston, New York, Dallas, Chicago and elsewhere have stopped offering straws at their restaurants.

Politicians have taken notice, as well. A bill introduced this year in California would fine restaurants $25 a day if their servers provide a straw to customers without first being asked.

A New York City councilman introduced a bill last week that said restaurants should replace plastic straws with paper or metal alternatives. Seattle and Miami Beach have passed bans on plastic straws, and Malibu, Calif., is banning plastic cutlery and straws.

Carrozzi said he learned of the straws-upon-request policy at Butcher and the Rye, a restaurant and cocktail bar in Downtown Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t notice it for a while because I always have a beer when we go out. But my wife noticed it one time. … I looked around, and there were no straws,” Carrozzi said.

Some have cut out plastic straws altogether, including Lawrence­ville’s Merchant Oyster Co. and sister restaurant Or, the Whale, where they use paper or metal alternatives. The straws-upon-request policy has been in place at Senti Restaurant and Wine Bar on Butler Street for a few months. And the Mad Mex in Shadyside adopted the policy in January.

Carrozzi said his patrons haven’t complained since adopting the policy in late February or early March. He said the restaurant will continue to keep some straws in stock.

“Straws don’t cost anything,” he said. “Maybe that’s the problem, you know? They’re so cheap that people just keep using them and throwing them away.”

But some restaurants aren’t ready to banish straws.

McDonald’s shareholders — following a recommendation from management — voted last week against a proposal that would have moved it toward ending the use of plastic straws. It has agreed to stop using plastic straws in its U.K. locations in advance of a nationwide ban.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.