Upscale Restaurants in California Are Serving Meals on Disposable Plates Because of the Drought

Restaurants in Fort Bragg are serving filet mignon on disposable plates and wine in plastic cups
Plastic Cups

Photo Modified: Flickr/Steve Depolo/CC 4.0

Though it may not be the most eco-friendly move, it saves water.

California is still battling a drought, and it has gotten so bad that upscale restaurants in Fort Bragg have no choice but to use disposable plates and cups to avoid washing dishes.

These restaurants on the Mendocino Coast are now serving filet mignons on paper plates and wine in plastic cups. Fort Bragg’s City Council declared a “Stage 3” water emergency on September 30.

Residents and businesses must only use 30 percent of water. This means they are not allowed to wash their cars, water lawns, or upkeep landscaping. Restaurants and hotels must resort to using disposable plates, cups, and utensils. They must also use disposable napkins to cut back on washing the cloth in the laundry.

“The Noyo [River] is a critical component of our water supply, and it is too salty to use.” Linda Ruffing, Fort Bragg’s city manager, told SF Gate. “The flows are so low, it’s off charts. We have to lower our water use to the absolute minimum.”


Earlier this year, California’s State Water Resources Control Board enforced a new regulation to prohibit restaurants and bars from serving water before it is requested by the customer. This regulation will be in place for a 270-day period.