An early adopter of the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program, Sushi Fuku continues to expand its sustainable practices. Recently the restaurant advanced from a Silver Plate designation to a Gold Plate at both locations in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood: Oakland Avenue and Craig Street. Read on to hear District Manager Ron Oliver’s take on the benefits of restaurant sustainability.
– What are examples of some big-picture trends in sustainability that restaurants in our region should be paying attention to?
For one, customer preferences. They are a big driver for changes within the restaurant industry. Customers care about sustainability now more than ever, so it’s the perfect time to make improvements with energy upgrades, waste reduction strategies, and in community activism. Sustainability is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects when it comes to how restaurants operate, and prospective diners are using it to guide more of their meal choices. Initiatives like the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program provide a way for restaurants to latch onto those trends and talk about the good that we do.
– Both Sushi Fuku locations have advanced from a Sliver Plate designation to a Gold Plate. Congratulations! How did you go about accomplishing this?
Not only did we make purchases of energy efficient equipment, we went through our business with a fine comb to see what improvements we could make to become more sustainable and rise to a Gold Plate. With the help of Sustainable Pittsburgh, we were able to find changes to make within our day to day activities that helped us become more sustainable. One thing we’ve learned from this experience is that all the little things really add up to make a difference!
– Last year, you installed strip curtains and purchased an Energy Star freezer at Sushi Fuku’s Oakland Avenue location. How has this been beneficial to the business? What kind of cost-savings have you seen?
The strip curtains have been very useful. They help keep the cool temperatures from escaping from our walk-in cooler and freezer. With their installation last June, we’ve seen a significant price decrease in our energy bills. We also had support from the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program to replace our 10-year-old reach-in freezer with a new Energy Star model. We used to spend quite a bit on our monthly electric bills, especially in the summer. Improvements like the strip curtains and updated equipment help to keep those costs down. We are saving about $127 per month in electricity costs, which comes to over $1500 saved in the past year.
– What advice would you give to independently owned restaurants that want to become more sustainable?
Jump onboard with the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program. Not only are you provided assistance throughout the process of improving the sustainability within your restaurant, the team makes earning designation easy, it requires a modest amount of time for busy owners, and the program provides some great supports at a cost that’s easily accessible for an independent restaurant owner. Furthermore, this program is a great learning opportunity for restaurant owners on adopting more sustainable choices, not to mention that it can help save money! We see participation with this program as a no-brainer for Sushi Fuku. We wish this program existed years ago when first opened.