Local restaurant strives to save energy despite ERCOT request

TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) – For the second time in three days, ERCOT is asking Texans to conserve power during the evening hours to avoid forced outages across the state, but it’s a request that many businesses say they find it difficult to respect.

Most food-related businesses will need to continue using large appliances like refrigerators in order to maintain standard health service temperatures.

Restaurants like La Riv say that in addition to coolers and freezers, there are other appliances they just can’t turn off, like the hood vents above their stoves.

“We turn them on in the morning when we start cooking and they have to stay on all day,” explained La Riv chef Tony Strauss.

However, aside from the necessities, Strauss walks through his kitchen noting a number of steps staff can take to be more mindful of the electricity they use.

“Once we finish an order, we close the lids of our coolers, so that the cold air doesn’t come out,” he explains.

Before the interview, Strauss asked for time to wipe the sweat off his head. He says they keep the kitchen a few degrees warmer because it’s already warmer where they cook anyway.

In the back, staff wash their hands as much as they can to avoid running the dishwasher while things slow down between lunch and dinner.

“It’s only during dinner that we’ll do a lot of [dishwasher] cycles,” Strauss said.

They will also be using many of their appliances that don’t use electricity with tonight’s menu. Wednesdays in particular are pizza nights at the restaurant, where they offer wood-fired pizza menu options.

“The pizza oven does not consume electricity. We just build a nice bed of embers in the morning and just throw in a log or two throughout the day,” he said.

They will also rely on their gas stove and grill.

In the dining room, a new centerpiece will help them reduce their electricity consumption.

“We have these battery-operated table lamps to light up the table so that at night we can dim the lights,” Strauss said.

He says they are also adjusting the temperature throughout the restaurant during closing time to reduce what is used overnight.

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