Evanston restaurants use Too Good To Go to reduce food waste


Katie Chen/The Daily Northwestern

Cinnaholic, located on Davis Street. The store uses Too Good To Go to reduce food waste.

Rosie Newmark, Reporter

Madison Houk, manager at Great Harvest Bread Co. on Central Street, said she disliked throwing out all of the bakery’s leftovers at the end of the day.

But last year, the bakery joined Too Good To Go, an app that allows restaurants to sell leftover food at a discounted price with the goal of reducing food waste. Now, they offer grab bags through the app, each typically containing three scones and a loaf of bread.

“We normally have about five ‘to-go’s’ every day of the week and usually 10 to 15 on Sundays,” Houk said. 

The Denmark-based company launched in the U.S. in September 2020 and came to the Chicago area in July 2021. A number of Evanston restaurants, including The Lucky Platter, Cinnaholic, Backlot Coffee and Blended, now use the service.

All restaurants on the app sell leftovers via a “Surprise Bag” that customers must pick up within a certain time frame.

Jason Jones — shopkeeper of Lucky Platter’s associated store, Platter Pantry — said Lucky Platter began using Too Good To Go at the end of last year.

Because Lucky Platter doesn’t sell pre-made goods, Jones said the restaurant takes a different approach with the app. If a chef makes a dish incorrectly, he said they sell the dish on the app rather than throwing it out.

“It’s a good way for someone to try something different, maybe something they’ve never had before because they don’t know what they’re ordering,” Jones said. “It’s a good way for us to not throw things away and give someone a chance to eat something that we made.”

According to a Too Good To Go press release from July 2021, each Chicago resident wastes roughly 20 pounds of food per month. The community altogether wastes 55 million pounds of food each month and more than 660 million pounds each year.

Although Lucky Platter only began using the app within the past few months, Jones said he believes it has already been successful at reducing food waste.

“We divide it into three price categories and put it on the app and someone comes in and picks it up,” Jones said. “We usually have a couple people that come in all the time so I think they probably check the app regularly.”

Angela Milton, a manager at Cinnaholic, said the restaurant typically puts $15 worth of food in a bag and sells it for $5 on the app. She said the bakery staff throws away less than 5% of its goods since the shop started using Too Good To Go. 

Milton said the bakery schedules at least one bag per day — more if they have a large number of leftovers or items that are going to expire soon.

“We don’t throw away just about anything anymore,” Milton said. “In the beginning, we did throw away a lot of things, but this definitely helped.” 

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Twitter: @newmarkrose

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