How long you’ve owned your Denny’s franchises? 

We started franchising in 1992, when we opened Denny’s of Mokena. In December of 2008, we opened Denny’s of Joliet. We never thought we would want to open a second Denny’s, but then some positive things started changing. We became very enthusiastic about a second store, and decided to go for it again.

What made you decide to start implementing energy consumption savings programs into your Denny’s?

It all started about 10 years ago, when we really wanted to find ways to help with our return on investment so to speak. We started looking at things creatively. I happened to be working in my restaurant one day, and a light bulb burned out. While searching for a replacement, I came across a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), that someone had given me. I was previously aware of the energy efficiency of a CFL, but I wondered if it produced the same amount of light as a standard 100-watt bulb. After some research, I learned that a 13-watt CFL bulb actually produces twenty percent more lumens in light than the 100-watt bulb. I immediately replaced all of the light bulbs in the store. This resulted in a tremendous savings of $440 a month on my electric bill.

At the time, CFL bulbs needed an adapter in order to work. Nowadays, they do not need an adapter, as you just screw them in. It costed us $3,500 to do the adapters, but this paid for itself well within a year.

Since then, I have been on a quest to be as energy-efficient as possible. I also strive to help educate other restaurant owners about steps they can take to be green in their stores.

What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to build or open a LEED-Certified business?

While location scouting for our most recent store, we kept in mind our desire to be LEED-Certified. Before making our final decision to open Denny’s in Joliet, we spoke with the city of Joliet about our green goals. After sharing our plans to construct a LEED-Certified restaurant, they told us they would be willing to lower our hook-up fees if we could meet or exceed city standards.

We then retrieved some information from our architect outlining how the new store would save thirty percent of our water. An average Denny’s uses 1.3 million gallons of water per year, so we would be reducing our water usage by three hundred thousand gallons. We went in there with low-flow faucets, low-cut aerators, an instant hot water system, and more. We worked with the architect to prepare a presentation for the city, and they were impressed. In return, Joliet cut our hook-up fees by 30 percent — a $25,000 savings. With our water conservation plan in place, it actually costs more money to take the sewer away than it does to bring the water in. So my advice is: if you are planning a green building, ask the city if they can help. They may have some great programs in place for your business.

What type of advice would you give someone who owns a couple of restaurants or franchises if they are trying to lower their energy consumption?

I recently counseled a friend who owns a ten thousand square foot restaurant. He told me his utility bills were outrageous. So I agreed to take a quick walk though his store. The first thing I noticed was the 150-watt flood bulbs in the ceiling. I told him about my experience with CFL bulbs, and he decided to do something similar. After consulting with a lighting expert, he replaced his 150-watt flood-bulbs with a 25-watt CFL’s. He immediately he saw considerable savings; almost $2,000 a month.

Another thing you should watch for is leaking faucets. This issue can be helped by adding aerators to your fixtures. If you have one faucet that drips water, and it can fill a coffee cup within a minute, that comes to 30,660 gallons of water a year. Here in Illinois, water costs us seven dollars per thousand gallons. A leaking faucet can waste a lot of water and money per year.

At our Joliet location, we installed skylights. It is proven that people enjoy being in natural daylight, and this has a very positive impact in a restaurant. Our skylights were made nearby in Illinois by the Amish, and they are experts on energy efficiency.

If you are building a new store or its time to replace your roof, you may want to consider a white roof. The savings here can be huge. On an 80 degree day, the temperature of a black roof is a 120 degrees, while the temperature of a white roof is 80 degrees. You have to cool that same air to 72 degrees for the comfort of your customers, why not have the help of a white roof?

Is it just white paint?

It is actually called plasticizer, which can be added onto the shingles instead of traditional black tar.

There are a few companies that produce and install white roofs, which would last longer than using plasticizer. We had a white roof installed at our Joliet location, and is similar to Dura-Last. It is highly reflective, and it’s a real good idea.

Where can I find more resources and information on green restaurants and green living?

Be sure to check back here at mygreendennys.com for new information.

I also recommend visiting:




All of these websites have great information.

Also, if you’re looking to buy appliances, look for the Energy Star seal before you make your purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 <?php 2 if ( function_exists( 'yoast_analytics' ) ) { 3 yoast_analytics(); 4 } 5 ?>