José Andrés restaurants switch to seaweed straws

Loliware says its seaweed straws and utensils look and feel like plastic, but can compost completely within 50 days. (Courtesy Loliware)(Courtesy Loliware)
Loliware says its seaweed straws and utensils can compost completely within 50 days. (Courtesy Loliware)
José Andrés Group, which now counts more than 30 restaurants both in the U.S. and internationally, is partnering with Shark Tank graduate Loliware to transition its restaurants to straws made of seaweed.

San Francisco-based Loliware, which produces its products at a facility in Missouri, agreed to a Shark Tank deal in 2015 with Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran, worth $600,000 for a 25% stake in the company.

Loliware says it is the world’s first seaweed-resin company. In addition to straws, Loliware also produces disposable cutlery out of seaweed.

Terms of the partnership with José Andrés Group weren’t disclosed. The straws will debut at Andres’ restaurants in Chicago first — at Bar Mar, Bazaar Meat and Jaleo — and then expand to restaurants in D.C. There are plans to expand to restaurants across the country later.

Loliware says the seaweed straws and utensils look and feel like plastic, but can compost completely within 50 days.

According to the company, more than 100 million plastic utensils are used in the U.S. each day and are among the most common items found polluting beaches and ocean life worldwide.

Jose Andres Group’s research and development team will also collaborate with Loliware for service ware.

“The food system is not just about what is on the plate, but the plate itself, the fork in your hand and the straw in your drink,” said Sam Bakhshandehpour, president of José Andrés Group. “We’re excited to partner with Loliware to bring an innovative product to our restaurants as well as continue to create and push the boundaries of service ware.”

Woman-owned Loliware has partnered with experts in “regenerative aquaculture” from Maine to Indonesia to expand its products.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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