Westlake Eatery Has Penchant For Green

Friday, November 07, 2008

A framed notice appearing prominently on the wall of The Sea Casa in Westlake Plaza expresses in simple terms owner Herbert Boks' personal philosophy about the value of the environment: "Green is better for the health and well-being of people, and better for the environment we live in." He is currently increasing his effort to make his restaurant a shining example of green living.

The Sea Casa, a fresh Mexican grill, features a line of cold drink cups and lids called Greenware; they are made from polylactic acid, a resin derived entirely from corn.

Greenware describes its products as "the sustainable cup alternative, delivering positive economic, social and environmental advantages." The benefits include reduced fossil-fuel use and landfill contamination.

The casual neighborhood eatery also uses Green Wave biodegradable plates and containers made of natural fibers like sugar cane, grass and reed plasma. These are meant to be eco-friendly substitutes for Styrofoam and plastic.

Packaging of takeout orders is done with EcoCraft deli wrap, made from chlorine-free paper stock, integrating a soy blend eco-wax.

A native of Rotterdam, Holland, Boks got started in the restaurant business with his American wife, Lisa, as corporate managers for McDonald's.

The couple went on to run a successful frozen yogurt shop at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which ultimately was bought out by Planet Hollywood.

They bought the 15-year-old Sea Casa nine years ago.

Their latest efforts to go green also involve shopping for nontoxic cleaning supplies and replacing plastic bags with those made of corn.

Customers also can purchase Go-Again reusable bags at the restaurant, made from strong recyclable nonwoven propylene.

According to Boks, it's not always easy to be green, because he has to blend his idealism with practical business sense. "I have to be realistic and get what works," he said.

The couple's decision to pursue the green lifestyle comes with a premium; Boks cautions that it's very expensive.

Since his green transformation, he said, he has spent three times more for supplies than he did before.

He is hopeful about future supply and demand.

"I personally believe that if large corporations start buying these products, the prices will go down," he said.

The mild-mannered Boks does not lecture or preach when he talks about his commitment to the environment. He simply takes pride in making a difference in his corner of the world.

"It's time-consuming, but I do it out of personal conscience," he said. "You can't only take; you have to give back. We have to change the way we consume."

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1014-4 Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village, CA

Phone: 805-374-1921

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