After the cost of paper plates rose for the third time since the beginning of the year, Conejito’s Place assistant manager Joe Garcia decided it was time to stop using the flimsy disposable platters.
"I thought about moving to ceramic or plastic plates, but then I would have to hire a dishwasher," says Garcia.
Instead, Conejito’s, at 539 W. Virginia St., will move to a "no-plate policy," meaning the eatery – which has been called "the casa of Mexican comfort food" for four decades – will be served directly on table tops.
"People can also eat right off the bar tops. It will be the customer’s choice," says Garcia, noting that the new system should work well with most menu items, including the tacos. He did admit that dealing with guacamole might get a little weird.
"And the bar top will be a little more challenging, since it has that padding all around it. That'll make sliding food directly in a little more difficult."
For a 39-cent upcharge, waiters will also dump food directly into customers' mouths.
Sue Stroker, founding and sole member of Walker’s Point-ians For A Greener Neighborhood, is thrilled about the decision. She posted on her Facebook page that she will now support Conejito’s, which she had boycotted in 1979 for the use of eco-mean plates, by maybe eating there once a year.
"I'd be willing to eat those sloppy enchiladas right off the bar, the way Mother Earth intended us to," says Stroker. "Although I am ungodly allergic to toxic cleaning chemicals like 409, so I hope that won’t be a problem. I’m also allergic to rabbits."
Paloma Miller, a longtime server at Conejito’s, says the new plate-less system means many more trips to and from the kitchen for her.
"It’s going to be awkward at first," says Miller. "I’ll have to grab the chicken, run out to the dining area, slap it on the table, run back to the kitchen to ladle up the mole sauce, run back out and pour it over the chicken … I wonder if La Fuente is hiring."
By mid-summer, Garcia says he plans to get rid of glassware as well and looks forward to pouring his family’s famous margaritas right into the eager, cupped hands of his customers.
"Skin is naturally salty, which will enhance the flavor of our margs," says Garcia. "And we'll save even more money from not having to replace broken glasses. Or buy actual salt."
Garcia says he plans to use some of the savings to make improvements to the popular Walker’s Point cantina.
"We might finally re-pot the planters filled with dead plants in the dining room or maybe buy a new Johnny Cash 45 for the jukebox," says Garcia.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.