ORLANDO, Fla. – A new non-profit aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small business owners in Central Florida’s hospitality industry is setting its sights on reducing the food waste that comes out of those businesses.
Orlando Hospitality Alliance is a nonprofit organization that functions as an advocacy group for smaller hospitality operations such as restaurants, bars, food trucks, nightclubs and music venues.
The organization is relatively new.
“We officially launched in January of this year,” said Dominique Greco, the founder and executive director of OHA.
Greco previously worked for the City of Orlando as its first nighttime economy manager.
“We are really looking to streamline the entrepreneur experience here in Central Florida by way of policy reform, programming, education and connectivity,” she said.
In essence, OHA looks to give a single voice and a seat at the bargaining table to Central Florida’s hospitality business owners.
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The organization already has over 100 members, according to Greco, with the goal of having 500 members by the end of 2022. As the group works toward that membership milestone, Greco has already started to leverage that membership toward a bigger goal — reducing food waste.
“Luckily for us, in Orange County, as well as in the city of Orlando, we have a lot of greenworks initiatives and sustainability programs that are already available,” Greco said. “I am helping both the city and the county communicate with the restauranteurs, just to make sure that the practices that are necessary to actually do the food waste (reduction) properly, make sense in the kitchen and make sense in the restaurant.”
Greco pointed out that business owners do not often have the time to process the ins and outs of municipal bureaucracy. So, OHA tries to digest that information for the entrepreneurs and present it to them in a simple way.
“They’re typically doing a hundred things in a day. So, when it comes to looking for the right resources, we want that to be really simple for them,” she said.
Greco said her group will be working with restaurants that have taken the pledge to assess their operations and make recommendations about what changes they can make to improve their food waste reduction.
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“So after we do the food waste evaluation for our first round of restaurants — and we’ll continue to do that — we will host a food waste reduction workshop talking specifically about menu design and ways that (businesses) can plan (their) menu to produce less waste, potentially, as well as introducing some distributors who may be a little more aligned with this particular effort,” Greco said.
Among the businesses already involved in the pledge is Zaza, a chain of fast-casual restaurants offering up “Cuban comfort food” across five locations.
OHA hopes to have 50 businesses committed to its Food Waste Reduction Pledge by the end of 2022 and not just from the Orlando metropolitan area. Greco said she wants to expand OHA’s reach to include all of Central Florida.
“We do have some members from Winter Park and some interest coming in from Winter Garden and a few other neighborhoods,” she said. “Everyone is invited to the table in terms of hospitality entrepreneurs.”