We’re serious about food. And very little else.
A clever marketing slogan, indeed. Except if Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill has proven a commitment to anything besides its delicious menu, it would be energy efficiency. After all, restaurants like Jack Astor’s are among the most energy-intensive commercial spaces, making utilities one of the highest costs facing operators. With low-profit margins, any monetary savings from increased energy efficiency can significantly benefit their bottom line.
Taking the lead on sustainability to help the foodservice industry save energy and money, Restaurants Canada recently partnered with Save on Energy, ENERGY STAR, Enbridge, LEAF, Russell Hendrix, Silver Chef and NewSpring Energy to throw down the gauntlet. Foodservice operators were invited to sign up and take advantage of money-saving energy tips, incentives and rebates, while upgrading to new, modern, high-efficiency equipment that can reap significant performance and energy benefits.
Participants would further learn about how small and big changes can have a positive impact on their business. They’d even get a free audit to determine energy saving opportunities within their business, on top of support from their local electric and gas utility companies to assist with eligible savings programs.
Beyond achieving a better balance sheet, the Foodservice Energy Challenge appealed to the sincere steps Jack Astor’s wants to take to improve the influence their business has on the environment.
The Canadian restaurant chain — with over 40 locations spread across Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, the Maritimes and the United States — is corporately owned by Service Inspired Restaurants, and SIR’s President and CEO, Peter Fowler, has said sustainability is as important to the corporation as quality. He demonstrated as much in 2018, when he spearheaded the switch from plastic to biodegradable straws across all SIR brands, from Jack Astor’s and Canyon Creek to Scaddabush and Reds.
According to Sartaj Bajwa, SIR’s Senior Facilities Manager, that move was made because Service Inspired Restaurants didn’t want to “wait until 2020 to make a difference,” as some other restaurants in their space chose to do. Instead, they believed there was no better time than the present to take action.
“Joining the Foodservice Energy Challenge was no different,” he reveals. “In order for us to continue our social responsibility, we needed to take a hard look at our energy consumption and identify all areas in which we could minimize our impact.”
The Jack Astor’s situated in Barrie, Ontario was an obvious choice for the Foodservice Energy Challenge’s aforementioned audit. Compared to other outposts roughly the same size, it rates high on utility and water costs.
SIR’s first step will be to retrofit the Jack Astor’s location with LED bulbs on all renovations. LED lights save up to 90 per cent energy compared to a traditional bulb with the same light output. Moreover, LED light sources last longer, avoiding the hassle of frequent changing of light bulbs. This significantly reduces waste, saving money in the long term.
SIR will also install Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation fans, which use sensors to detect cooking activity taking place under the exhaust hood. Specifically, they determine the minimum amount of exhaust air required to capture and contain effluent from the cook line, not only improving the efficiency of Jack Astor’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning, but contributing to a better environment for employees and customers.
Although currently in the process of establishing what other opportunities exist for energy savings, Sartaj says Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill is satisfied with the results so far. “We really appreciate the thorough investigation of our current utility usage and the many positive suggestions being made.”
In fact, the energy-efficient measures prompted by the Foodservice Energy Challenge won’t be a one-and-done deal for SIR. “We plan to implement these changes in all future renovations. Our goal going forward is to become more energy-efficient across all our restaurant brands.”