Juicy Lucy’s energy savings bolster business expansion | PostIndependent.com

Juicy Lucy’s energy savings bolster business expansion

Contributed photoRestaurateurs Cece and David Zumwinkle created a new front door for Juicy Lucy's Steakhouse with a double entranceway in order to improve temperature control. It's one of a package of energy efficiency improvements they have made to their downtown Glenwood Springs restaurant over the past three years.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In past years, customers seated at the front of Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse told the staff they were cold, while diners near the back said they were too warm.

During the colder months in the circa 1903 building, ice formed inside the windows, front tables could not be used for customer seating, and a chilly draft blew in when the front door was opened. During warmer times of the year, the wait staff would sweat as heat built up in the restaurant during the day and evening shifts.

Those temperature and comfort problems are in the past, after Juicy Lucy’s owners David and Cece Zumwinkle completed two rounds of energy efficiency upgrades, which were rolled in with an expansion. Even though the restaurant includes a new bar and 825 additional square feet, the energy bills have shrunk.

In the months of February, March and April 2011, electric bills dropped 52 percent and gas bills fell by 17 percent compared to the same months the previous year, Cece Zumwinkle said. Those decreases translated to $1,921 in savings. The lower energy bills are helping the restaurateurs plan big.

“It allows and encourages you to continue with other construction and energy-saving projects,” said David Zumwinkle, explaining the next project, which will be up on the roof.

“It will allow us to have seating on the roof and to grow herbs for our restaurant,” he said of their skyline expansion.

The Zumwinkles, who have owned the eatery for 12 years, have always implemented “green” measures that made sense for the business, such as buying potatoes, vegetables and elk from Garfield County farmers and ranchers. They buy Colorado lamb and beef and grow table flowers in their home garden.

So several years ago they decided to take physical steps to reduce the steakhouse’s energy footprint.

In 2009, the Zumwinkles participated in the CARD (Commercial Audit and Retrofit Demonstration) project, organized by Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) and funded by the Glenwood Springs Electric Department and Garfield Clean Energy. Following an energy audit by Schmueser Gordon Meyer engineers, the Zumwinkles carried out the most cost-effective and electricity-saving recommendations.

Work included replacing some lighting ballasts with more efficient models, insulating and sealing exterior walls and the ceiling of the upstairs office, balancing the kitchen exhaust hood, air-sealing the entire building, and installing efficient evaporator controls for an upgraded cooling system. The Zumwinkles completed $3,914 in work and received CARD rebates of $2,467.

After positive results with the pilot program, the Zumwinkles applied for the Garfield Clean Energy Challenge for Business in 2010, and Juicy Lucy’s is one of the 45-plus businesses between Parachute and Carbondale participating.

Their round two work included installing insulated ducts in unconditioned spaces, beefing up insulation in the dining room ceiling to a high R-90 level, insulating the sides and top of an old walk-in cooler, changing to low-flow sink sprayers, adding motion detectors and timers for outside signs, and using LED lights in exit signs.

This second round of measures cost $6,279; Garfield Clean Energy and Source Gas awarded the Zumwinkles rebates for $5,023.

“There is a total difference in the level of comfort in the dining room,” Cece noted.

The Zumwinkles have taken additional steps to cut power consumption. Motion detectors were added to the bathroom lighting, and the expansion into the former bakery space next door includes a double-door entryway to help keep the outside air out.

Last November, with the help of a historic façade beautification grant from the Glenwood Springs Downtown Partnership, the Zumwinkles installed double-paned windows.

The Zumwinkles also became more proactive on the people side of energy use.

They coached their staff so that employees no longer automatically turn on the power-hogging fryer, broiler and exhaust hood when they arrive in the morning.

The Zumwinkles said they were “thrilled and happy” to be involved in the energy efficiency rebate programs through Garfield Clean Energy, and they were surprised at the level of savings.

“It affects the bottom line positively, plus it makes us feel good to be doing something that is environmentally friendly,” Cece said. “It’s a win-win.”

Businesses across the county are encouraged to join the Garfield Clean Energy Challenge for assistance in becoming more energy efficient and more profitable.

Go to http://www.garfieldcleanenergy.org for details.

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