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Small Upside of the Pandemic for Restaurants and Bar Owners

Restaurants and bars are among the hardest-hit businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and have unfortunately suffered significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak first began.

These challenges will continue for the businesses as the country adjusts to the new normal and stay-at-home restrictions are slowly lifted.

Although multi-phase plans have gone into effect throughout most states, many of those states have placed a mandate which has authorized restaurants to operate at limited capacity. Other states will allow restaurants and bars to open at reduced capacity and have also limited services to outdoor seating in the first phase, with the announcement of indoor dining to come later in the second phase of public health data continuing to trend positive. Bars that do not even prepare food onsite may be impacted the hardest, and will not be able to open until phase three.

This is truly a tragedy that is unprecedented in modern times however, when you think about this situation from an energy perspective there is a silver lining. There are many ways to improve your business’s bottom line at this time, and it may be beneficial to explore the possibility of lower energy rates and efficiency measures for your business before the country opens back up, and business starts to ramp up again.

Let us start by understanding the competitive supply

If you are completely new to the process you may want to start by learning about deregulated energy. In short, energy deregulation is the restructuring of the existing energy market. It allows energy users to choose from multiple energy providers based on rates that suit their needs and purchase their energy with a fixed or index price, or through a customized hybrid strategy.

This is important now more than ever because stay-at-home orders are currently driving down energy rates in most markets. Due to the decreased demand for energy wholesale electricity prices in New England for March 2020 were the lowest since 2003. States included in PJM’s footprint* are no different. Power prices across PJM have also fallen due to reduced power demand. It is important to know that wholesale retail energy rates are extremely volatile and can fluctuate wildly based on day-to-day information, so as the country continues to reopen rates will start to trend upward again.

If the concept of purchasing energy through a supplier is somewhat familiar but seems confusing, you should know that there are energy advisors who can help navigate the complex energy market at no cost to you. We highly recommend speaking to a professional because energy supply is the new normal, and businesses such as restaurants and bars are some of the highest-risk facilities in the world of competitive energy supply. Fortunately, a variety of electric and natural gas suppliers are able to provide your industry with competitive rates.

If you are not ready to speak to a professional there are many other energy-efficient ways to control and even reduce your energy spend.

Energy efficiency measures are key to reducing your consumption

There are many ways to better manage your energy cost simply by taking preventative, energy-efficient measures. Reducing energy consumption is important for restaurants because they use five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial businesses, and compared to the typical home, restaurants use more than 30 times the amount of electricity.** Improving your energy efficiency can help minimize your restaurant’s operating costs.

To make sure establishments continue to operate successfully, here are a few energy-efficient tips tailored toward restaurants and bars:

Refrigerators and freezers

  • • Dispose of expiring inventory
  • • Consolidate products with like temperature setpoints

Access panels

  • • Clean louvers after power are turned off to remove any debris inside the machine
  • • Perform an inspection for any problems, such as oil leaks, grease stains, and metal filings that could be signs that something is wrong


  • • Remove the top cover and inspect the belts for cracking or wear.
  • • Having spare belts on hand to replace old ones can prevent costly interruptions during production.


  • • Clean with a rag and then vacuum all exposed surfaces with the power off
  • • Pay close attention to spaces between areas, such as body cooling fans, louvers over cooling fans, and cooling openings


  • • Clean with a dry rag after turning the burner off.
  • • Clean all dust, flour, and lint near the air intake and elsewhere.
  • • Turn the burner on and with the handle of a screwdriver gently tap the gas line coming into the burner to dislodge dust or rust.

Investing in energy efficiency solutions can also beneficial

Efficient products can reduce your energy usage, saving you money on your electric and/or gas bills, and will also improve the facility environment and production. There is a lot of research and many case studies on investing in energy-efficient products which support this fact. And often times, these products are eligible for rebates and incentives that cover up to 100%.

If you have thought about making these upgrades in the past but do not know where to begin, starting with an energy audit is a great first step, and energy audits offered at no cost are available to business owners.

Facility asset management can reduce your bottom-line

Decreasing your restaurant’s energy consumption is an easy way to lower the bottom line and it is also possible through facility asset management. There is an array of solutions available that enable businesses like yours to reduce energy expenses and facility assets — like roofs, walls, and pavement — while simultaneously improving their performance.

Predictive data analytics can do incredible things for a facility and it has enormous capabilities that extend the life of your assets, which could possibly help save on the total cost of ownership of your building. Mantis Perform by BLUEFIN, for instance, gives instant access to hundreds of data points and photos that can help a facilities manager make critical business decisions in the office or on the go.

We are in this together

Providing business owners with this information is not to be opportunistic, but to do a small part in helping a population that is struggling to cope with this new reality. It is our hope that restaurant and bar owners take advantage of this situation in every possible way they can, so your business is able to thrive following this difficult experience.

*PJM Interconnection coordinates the movement of electricity through all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

**Source: Energy Star


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