Canadian Pizza Magazine

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Saving dough with simple green


February 15, 2011
By Julie Fitz-Gerald

Topics

Greening up your restaurant to do your part in saving the earth is a
no-brainer, but discovering that a greener restaurant can also increase
profits .

Greening up your restaurant to do your part in saving the earth is a no-brainer, but discovering that a greener restaurant can also increase profits . . . well, that’s just good business. With the 21st International Earth Day approaching on April 22, here are some ways to make easy environmentally friendly changes to your pizzeria while putting more money into your pocket.

From small efforts such as replacing lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs, to big efforts like becoming a certified green restaurant, you’ll find no shortage of steps you can take to save the planet and increase efficiency in your business. As a non-profit organization servicing and certifying restaurants across the United States and Canada for the past 20 years, the Green Restaurant Association’s website states that medium to large business owners can see net savings of several thousand dollars per year, while small business owners can expect to see a net savings of around $1,000 per year based on simple earth-friendly changes to their restaurants.

Joe Leroux, owner of Amadio’s Pizza in Port Credit, Ont., has seen even greater savings than those mentioned above since making green changes to his pizzeria in an effort to become more efficient. Some of these changes include retrofitting all of the lighting in his store, having his pop cooler on a timer and keeping the compressor fans on his various coolers and freezers clean.

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“I know that I’ve saved substantial amounts of money each month with the small changes that I’ve made compared to how I was operating, it’s made that much of a difference. My utility bills have never been over a thousand dollars per month. My store is 1,500 square feet and I run six deck ovens,” he says.

Leroux’s knowledge of instrumentation has taught him that the most important change restaurant owners can make to become greener and more efficient, is to keep the compressor fans and condensing coils clean throughout their stores. “Have your compressor fans serviced regularly or do it yourself by vacuuming them out. If they’re blocked with dust, they can decrease the efficiency of your coolers and freezers very fast, which means they will be running longer than what is needed and that will use a lot more energy,” he advises.

Another way Leroux has increased efficiency while going green is through a POS system that logs orders. The system has reduced the amount of paper required for receipts, and reducing the amount of time spent on the phone per order.

“It really allows me to operate the business knowing what time the delivery came in, how much time we have to get it delivered, what the co-ordinates of the delivery are, and which deliveries can go together. This saves a lot of gas by cutting down on idling and using more direct routes. What I now do with three drivers I used to be doing with five. Basically, going green is good for the bottom line.”

An additional great tip for going green is to shop locally whenever possible, something that has become a movement in its own right. The local movement emphasizes that buying locally reduces fuel emissions caused by products travelling across the continent to reach consumers. Leroux is a fan of shopping locally and buys most of the items he needs within a two-kilometre radius of Amadio’s, but he warns, “Sometimes buying local at the farmer’s market is three times as much as you pay at the wholesaler’s for the same product. So what do you do?”

Leroux is fortunate enough to be located mere minutes away from A.J. Lanzarotta Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables, a vegetable wholesaler in Mississauga, Ont. This is where he goes to buy local high-quality produce. Using high-quality ingredients is yet another practice that has contributed to the success of Leroux’s business. “By buying a better-quality product, you get a better taste, a longer shelf life and you can use a little less with a higher-quality product, so in the end it costs the same.”

While feeling morally good about the green choices you’ve made is probably the best benefit, the Green Restaurant Association also highlights six other benefits to going green on its website: garnering good publicity, cutting costs, improving staff productivity and morale, driving in new customers and increasing customer loyalty, staying ahead of legislation, and creating a healthier environment in which to live.

Leroux has experienced many of these benefits, including publicity and customer loyalty first hand thanks to the green changes he’s made at Amadio’s. 

“I’ve had a couple of articles in the local newspaper written on [my green efforts], so yes, customers are aware and they are supportive of it. It basically comes down to the fact that it’s smart business. A lot of my customers are small-business people so they do understand what I’m doing and they think it’s a good idea. Those ideas you want to share because it’s only one Earth,” he says.

Thanks to high-profile spokesmen rallying on behalf of our planet and the tireless efforts of teachers and environmental groups, the urgency and importance of every Canadian joining together to make green choices is clear. The added fact that going green can increase the efficiency of a business, providing an immediate return to owners, further proves that we can’t afford to sit idly by. Implementing Earth-friendly changes in our homes and businesses just makes sense.