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Great Neck area restaurants to welcome frogs in eco-friendly kitchens

Restaurants in the Great Neck Water Pollution Control

Restaurants in the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District will soon display this decal, which signifies that they are disposing of cooking grease in an eco-friendly way. Credit: Newsday / Khristopher J. Brooks

Diners in the Great Neck area will soon see frogs in restaurants.

It's not a public health violation. The frogs — cartoons of the amphibian wearing a chef's toque — will signify that restaurants in the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District are disposing of cooking grease in an eco-friendly way. It's part of the fats, roots, oils and grease — FROG — program.

“It’s a cool idea to walk into a restaurant and look at it and you know that the restaurant is working to keep the environment clean,” district commissioner Steve Reiter said.

District officials will visit about 90 restaurants in the Great Neck area in the coming weeks to ensure kitchen staff are collecting used cooking grease in large containers and paying a grease-collection company to properly haul the oil away, Reiter said. Restaurants that comply and submit receipts for the grease collection will get one of the decals to display.

Restaurants must show receipts every year to retain their decal, Reiter said.

Identifying restaurants that generate gallons of grease is part of a larger plan for the pollution control district.

The district is building an $11.5 million grease-receiving station that will use microturbines and anaerobic digesters to turn the used cooking fats into electricity and heat. The district plans to use the machinery to power its Great Neck facility and will generate revenue by charging businesses to dispose of used grease.

The district recently awarded the construction contract, Reiter said. Construction is to be complete in February 2020. 

“In about four months, we should be breaking ground,” he said. “And we’re looking at about 18 months of construction.”

District officials issued the first FROG decal June 21 to the Great Neck Diner on Grace Avenue.

Diner cooks use grease primarily to make French fries, chicken fingers, fried fish fillets, onion rings and mozzarella sticks, co-owner Rorie Miller said. The restaurant generates enough grease to fill a 100-gallon container and a 50-gallon container each month, Miller said.

A grease collector comes to the diner once a month, a practice that has been in place since the diner opened eight years ago, Miller said.  

“It’s just another way to show the customers that we do care about Great Neck and that we’ll do whatever we can do to foster safe water,” Miller said.

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