NYC Business Owners Weigh in on Bloomberg’s Sugar ‘Ban’

When Theo Goldin, COO of HINT all-natural essence water company, first heard about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces citywide, he disapproved.

“I think he is accurately recognizing these beverages have no nutritional value,” Goldin said. “But he is interfering with consumer choice. I feel you should make people aware of issues, but give them real meaningful choices to make.”

Yet, he said, the movement toward more health-conscious beverages has benefitted HINT, which will be a featured drink at Central Park’s Summer Stage entertainment series this year. Goldin is one of few business owners that may stand to benefit from Bloomberg’s move, which would outlaw these large-sized drinks at essentially all restaurants, movie theaters, carts and more throughout the five boroughs as early as March 2013.

Goldin said HINT’s pick up for the summer series is a rarity for a small beverage company, which typically has to go up against giants like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola at venues.

“It's unclear right now if the ban will pass, but I don’t think it will necessarily be easier to get our product out there,” he said.

Hafid Elbroji, co-owner of TSQ Brasserie in Times Square, said he is against the Mayor’s proposal.

“We deal with choice,” Elbroji said. “It’s a bad thing; people need to decide what they want for themselves.”

Drinks are served in 12-ounce glasses at the restaurant, so the business would neither be impacted nor would it lose business.

John Argenas, owner of Evergreen Diner in Midtown, said that although extra-large soft drinks are popular in the diner business, he is personally in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s push.

“I am all for it because I have five kids and am always screaming at them [over soft drinks],” Argenas said. “I am for it as a business owner as well, and health-wise.”

Efi Jacoby, owner of Effy’s Café in Yorkside, said he supports Bloomberg’s healthy initiative. Today customers are more concerned with quantity and will drink and eat more than necessary just because they are getting a deal.

“I think people forgot about quality, they just want more for their money,” Jacoby said. “If someone offers you a 10-ounce popcorn for $4 and a 30-ounce popcorn for $4.50, you will go for the bigger one just to get a bargain.”

The café, which features Mediterranean-style sandwiches and wraps, skews more toward health-conscious offerings, and Jacoby hopes his customers appreciate the sentiment.

“We are promoting downsizing,” he said. “We like smart people, people who know what they are putting in their bodies.”

For those customers who are looking for larger drinks, Argenas said there’s always the refill, and if anything his business may benefit from that.

“People may order the refill the first or second time, but eventually they will want to save money and won’t go for it anymore,” he said.