Retail businesses of every stripe have flirted with the idea of going green for years. Customers were once thrilled with organic, ethically-sourced ingredients, air hand dryers in bathrooms, and sensors on bathroom sinks. But as the cost of running an independent restaurant climbs, entrepreneurs are looking to ecologically-friendly practices to help them court customers while also saving on overhead costs. Going green is about more than saving the environment – it’s about saving your bottom line.
Start Small With Green Initiatives
While the case is clear for going green, it can be daunting for cash- and time-conscious entrepreneurs to know where to begin improving operations:
- Keep your cool: Turning down the thermostat in your restaurant is a great way to cut energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Even in cold weather, human traffic, along with busy ovens, grills, and other appliances will add plenty of heat to keep guests and employees comfortable.
- Go low with the flow: Low-flow faucets and toilets can save 20-40% of water costs every year. Keep your money from going down the drain – literally!
- Trim down your menu: Reducing the amount of ingredients you buy and stock does a great job of reducing the energy costs, while also saving money and time on food prep.
- Blow away the competition: High-powered hand dryers are taking away the need for expensive, wasteful, inefficient paper towels in restaurant bathrooms.
If your restaurant has already started with many of these smaller-scale green tips and would like to continue in that direction, restaurants are now finding infrastructure that saves energy every day. Energy-efficient appliances and energy management software are two popular ways restaurants are reducing energy consumption.
According to Energy Star’s website, commercial food gobbles up $10 billion or more in energy costs every year. What’s troubling is that up to 80% of that energy is wasted through the additional heat and noise these commercial kitchen appliances produce. Energy-efficient appliances represent a cost to any restaurant, but with more states offering special incentives and rebates to switch to green appliances, the savings these appliances yield will make other restaurants go green (with envy, this time).
Energy monitoring systems are on the rise for good reason. Software that can monitor and control power consumption saves restaurants thousands of dollars each year simply by reducing the power consumed when the restaurant is closed. The refrigerators should always be running, but by reducing power to your bathroom or dining room, your restaurant will save significant money on operating costs every day.
Locavoracious Appetites Save Energy
Ten years ago, restaurant guests wanted access to Chilean Sea Bass, imported salmon, and incredibly rare Wagyu beef. While those ingredients are still popular, the farm to table movement and the rise of locavorism has led more restaurants to try and source their foods closer and closer to home.
Farmer’s markets offer great produce…if any restaurateur has the time to visit them. Foodservice companies like Sysco have now established networks of locally-sourced and sold produce in several regions. Allowing your foodservice supplier to bring your groceries with saves an additional trip and associated fuel costs, while also supporting local farmers and robust communities.
Don’t Let Profits Go To Your Waste
Waste is a thief that gobbles up energy, resources, and even food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates America wastes up to 40% of its food supply. This represents a cost over $1 trillion a year in food that winds up feeding landfills.
Wasted food should never be thrown away if possible. Restaurants are increasingly repurposing ingredients (Monday’s fresh fish becomes Tuesday’s ceviche) and some with gardens are even starting to compost food waste into valuable fertilizer!
With more technology, best practices, and trends emerging in green restaurant management all the time, CAKE will continue updating clients and restaurateurs about the way ecological concerns are reshaping restaurants. While the days of throwing endless amounts of food into the trash are over, the time for restaurants to step up and attract like-minded consumers has only begun.