Babette, a restaurant committed to the Ocean


The Ocean is our lifeline and it is critical to protect and care for it. Restaurants can do their part by adopting ocean-friendly practices and encouraging their customers to do the same. The Surfrider Foundation's Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR) charter addresses this issue. With the ambition to participate in the green transition of the restaurant industry in Europe, this program accompanies restaurant owners in taking sustainable actions.

Focus on Babette, a Bordeaux restaurant signatory of the Ocean Friendly Restaurant charter

We met Sylvain Loubet, regional sales manager of Naos Hotel and Quentin Boyer, manager of the restaurant Babette. We asked them about their eco-responsible approach within the restaurant, which allowed them to become a signatory of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants charter. 

We received a warm welcome from the entire team and Sylvain and Quentin were quite friendly. 

1. Can you present your restaurant to us? 

Quentin : 

Babette is a concept store restaurant that is part of the Naos Hotel Group, launched in 2018. The values of the restaurant are simplicity, sustainability along with wellness. Babette is like the grandmother you enjoy going to for lunch. The goal is for customers to feel comfortable and at home. 

It is a restaurant that relies on local ingredients and is committed to the environment. The ingredients used are carefully traced and locally produced from suppliers in the region. For this, we have chosen Servi en Local as our partner, promoting healthy agriculture and supporting a local economy. We also sort our waste with compost thanks to an operational partnership with Bicycompost, a Bordeaux-based company that collects vegetable waste by bicycle in the city from several establishments. As much as possible, we educate our customers regarding food waste. 

Sylvain : 

Babette belongs to the NAOS group, which is a group of hotel investors and operators. It has several hotels and restaurants in France and one in Brussels. For Babette, being part of this group means above all technological support. It has become a brand, with other Babette restaurants in Le Havre, Tours and Massy.  

Our location attracts customers from the surrounding offices. We offer them adapted menus, served in 45 minutes, suitable for team lunches.  

2. Why have you integrated environmentally friendly practices into your restaurant? 

Quentin : 

Our approach is part of a current movement, in line with the urgency of climate change. There is a real need to change the way we work. We have a job of transmission and sharing, especially with future generations. It is up to us to educate customers about new practices and ways of consuming. This awareness is achieved by explaining our composting process with our partner Bicycompost. Thanks to this partner, our waste is transformed into quality compost and distributed free of charge to market gardeners in the region to promote local agriculture. It's a virtuous circle, where we put forward new techniques.  

Sylvain : 

Our generation has been educated and sensitized to environmental causes. We have customers who demand traceability of our products. If we serve strawberries in December, we will have questions. There is also a desire on the part of the staff to go further in the process. We are lucky to be in a region that is very rich in raw materials, and we serve a lot of local products. In addition, we offer a menu at 25 euros with starter, main course and dessert.  

We started to set up partnerships in the sense of our responsible approach in 2020. Since then, we have been approached by partners who wanted to help us go further in our actions, in order to limit our impact even more. Most of our questions have been answered by local actors who have responded to our needs. 

3. What are the main difficulties you have encountered? 

Quentin : 

Jobs in the restaurant industry are quite repetitive. As soon as the roadmap is changed, it takes time for the teams to adapt, which can be long and difficult to accept. However, we are fortunate to have a team of young, intelligent people who are open and willing to accept these changes. Once the process is explained, employees are willing to commit and are enthusiastic about these new practices.  

Sylvain : 

One difficulty we have encountered is the contrast between what customers want and what they are willing to accept. We have made the choice to offer only two options for our daily menu, and this decision is sometimes challenged. Indeed, some customers ask for options that are not offered on the menu. On the whole, however, the clientele is friendly when we explain and communicate the process in advance, which our teams take pleasure in doing.  

4. Did you know about Surfrider Foundation before you became OFR? 

Sylvain : 

Yes, I already had the opportunity to exchange with one of your colleagues, Antidia, who is part of the lobbying team. I also spent a few years in Canada, where Surfrider has a strong presence. I know the Basque coast and the Landes region well, where many of Surfrider's actions take place. 

Quentin : 

I worked at Darwin on the catering part. The general store was the first Ocean Friendly Restaurant in Bordeaux.  

5. Could you describe the signing of the OFR charter? 

Sylvain : 

The signing of the charter went well. The general store in Darwin had communicated about the signing of the OFR charter, that's how we discovered the charter. The criteria seemed to correspond to our approach. We sent an email and then exchanged with Julie, a volunteer from the Gironde branch.  

We then organized a lunch with the head chef and volunteers from the Gironde branch. They checked all the criteria: the menu, the vegetarian part... We felt a real kindness on their part, for example with regard to the fact that the restaurant belongs to the Hilton group. This took about 2 hours.

6. What did you gain from becoming an Ocean Friendly Restaurant?

Sylvain : 

Following the signature of the OFR charter, we were identified as an establishment committed to the environmental cause. This is important for our staff and our values. Our OFR wooden panel is placed near the cash desk. It is often a subject of discussion with customers as it arouses their curiosity and they frequently ask questions about the charter. 

We aim to constantly improve. It requires time to find the most suitable solutions for our restaurant.   

One difficulty we face with our partners is their technical limitations. In high season, they have more demand. 

7. What is your outlook on the future of the food industry in terms of Ocean sustainability? 

Quentin : 

I think it is urgent to change habits. Not overnight but in stages. In particular, we need to work on seasonality and implement a logic of recurrence. We also need to break out of certain diets, certain things need to be updated. We want to lead to a new awareness and we are participating in this by raising the sensitivity of our teams.  

Sylvain : 

I echo the sentiments expressed by Quentin. We feel that people want more sense. Customers are willing to pay more, but it has to be consistent. People are ready to go to restaurants less, but to choose them better. In Bordeaux, there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables, meat and beverages. It would even be inconsistent not to turn to these suppliers 

La Source is a cooking school that will be launched in March in Darwin. Quentin helped launch this project. It's great to offer training like this to people who are not necessarily aware of these issues. 

8. What advice could you give to other restaurateurs who would like to pursue this approach? 

Quentin :

Not to give up and above all to keep your convictions. Sometimes we get negative feedback, but we have to remain steadfast. We must also take the time to follow the procedures to determine what is feasible. Take a step back. Believe in your convictions. To fight back against major restaurant chains.  

Sylvain : 

You have to go gradually, it all takes time. What are the KPIs (Key Indicator Performance)? What is a good score for a given indicator? There is not much training on this, so we are learning on the job for now.  

Do not hesitate to ask for support. We have been helped with the Clef Verte label, for example. The policy in Bordeaux is oriented towards environmental solutions, which has helped us. 

Finding alternatives can take time. For example, finding a solution for water took us 4 months. We didn't want plastic water bottles, but our supplier didn't offer a glass deposit. The bill was much more expensive on the card. Finally we were able to find a supplier that would allow us to use the deposit method. More generally, we have a hard time finding suppliers who do not use plastic to package products. It is sometimes complicated to find the right suppliers. 

Note from the OFR managers: we have made available a document with alternative suppliers by region, available to all restaurants that have signed the charter. A map is being created.  

9. Do you organize events for Surfrider or other organizations? 

Sylvain : 

Yes, like aperitifs for volunteers. Antonin, who works in the structure, is at the initiative of Aper'Assos. There was an event organized by makesense a month ago with Surfrider Foundation, Timefortheplanet, Waterfamily, Beyond the Sea... It's a rich microcosm in Bordeaux and we are delighted to be able to welcome these actors at Babette. 

10. Was the OFR charter an accessible gateway to more environmentally friendly approaches? Would you now like to go further than the charter, for more ecological commitment in your restaurant?  

Sylvain :  

The Clef Verte label did not ask us to think about certain criteria. But we knew that we wanted to go further in our approach, especially in the research to have a locality on raw materials. After signing the Ocean Friendly Restaurants charter, other labels such as Food Index for Good, one of OFR's operational partners, presented themselves to us. In general, the OFR charter has opened us to a whole eco-system of committed actors.  

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