Monthly Archives

June 2017

Summer Heat and Your Restaurant Energy

By | Energy Management, Restaurant Tips | No Comments

The month of July is upon us, that means celebrating our independence, fireworks, BBQ’s, and let’s not forget the HEAT! July of 2016 according to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the mean temperatures were the warmest on record for any month dating back to the 1800’s. We can only hope that temperatures this July don’t supersede that of last years.

Not only is it hot outside but your customers are looking to escape the heat, so no more setting that thermostat to 78 degrees. To keep customers happy and spending more time & money in your establishment your going to want to turn that AC down. The problem with that: your employees will want to turn it down as well but much lower than your billfold would allow. Energy costs in summer months rise…gotta love that whole supply and demand scenario. Lock those thermostats and keep them locked, ensure your customers are happy and employees too with a scheduling system for your air conditioning. Click here if you don’t have a scheduling system set up for your current thermostats. 

Some would argue that since the heat is so unbearable their business is affected because no one wants to venture outside in the heat. Here are some tips to help drive business to your restaurant during these summer months from

     1.Post colorful, refreshing drinks online

          Take advantage of Facebook and those Instagram hashtags! There is no better way to lure people in than with the refreshing drinks they don’t have at home!

     2. Update your Website with summer dishes

          Don’t just update the dishes….but add photos. People are visual and love to see what they are getting. You can also add a dish of the day to your Instagram if you don’t already do so.

     3. Offer online ordering to increase business. 

We live in the age of now and convenience. Rarely do people want to call in to place a to go order if they first don’t seek out the option to place it online. This may lessen the amount of phone calls you receive, it also helps that online order tickets are 5-25% larger than phone-in orders. SHOW ME THE $$$!

      4.   Distribute “Order Online!” cards to customers

             This will help spread the word of your new online ordering feature to people who already clearly love your food! Hand them out to current customers, have them on tables, even distribute to nearby business to place in their break room.

      5.   Upgrade your restaurant decor for summer.

Switch up your decor and do something fun and new that screams summer. New outdoor lighting strands or plants that say….you are not in Phoenix’s 120 heat but a balmy 70 in Oahu!

      6.   Set a blogging schedule and stick to it.

             Creating a buzz about your restaurant and the food offered will help only to bring people in. Pick something different everyday, your blog doesn’t have to look like the prologue to “War and Peace” but just enough to satisfy and leave them wanting more. Don’t forget to post pictures and updates on Facebook whenever you do a blog post. Spread the word and let social media help!

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USDA Gives Food Safety Tips

By | Food Safety | No Comments

June 20th the USDA  and Food Safety Inspection Service, offers food safety advice to those who might be affected by tropical cyclone three. The national hurricane center expects the potential cyclone will affect areas of central Texas to the panhandle in Florida late Wednesday. The USDA offers advice to restaurant owners, hospitality, retail, basically anyone who has to adhere to food safety conditions because these storms pose the issues of potential power outages and flooding which can cause stored food to become compromised in quality.

Straight from their website here are some tips to follow:

Steps to follow in advance of losing power:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

The precautions and steps listed above are crucial to maintain the quality of your food during an emergency such as this.

chameleon™ provides this kind of visibility into your restaurant/convenience store all remotely. Notifications for walk-in freezer/coolers above or below a set temperature will go straight to you and your team so that you know exactly when your walk-in’s loose power.* Not only does it provide the visibility of connection, but chameleon also reports real time temperatures and stores all historic data for later use.  Let Small Box Energy help ease your mind when it comes to food safety, call or email us today for a demo of the chameleon platform.









Easy-to-use interface gives users control of energy-using equipment

*additional backup power feature required

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Tips to Help Maintain Your Walk-In’s

By | Education, Service | No Comments

Summer is here and tis the season when all your equipment problems come to light. It’s basically Murphy’s Law when equipment goes out in the summertime. Imagine having a restaurant packed full of customers for your lunch rush and your dining room Air conditioner just went down….hopefully you are located someplace that isn’t Arizona. There are more things to consider in the summertime than just your air conditioning units. Walk-In freezers and coolers are no exception to this law as well.

When temperatures rise so does the workload on your equipment running like walk-in freezers to maintain its set temperature. Just like a car your walk-in cooler, and any equipment for that matter, will last you a lot longer if it’s properly maintained. Even if you have a preventative maintenance company it’s always good to glance at these items every so often to ensure equipment is in good working order.

Here are 6 Tips that will help:

  1. Visually Inspect: Look for:
    1. Corrosion on fins, copper tubing and solder joints
    2. Excessive or unusual vibration of fan blades when the unit is on.
    3. Oil stains on headers, return bends, and coil fins.
  2. Cleanliness: It’s always a good idea to keep the coolers/freezers clean. Soap and water are the best methods to clean avoiding any harsh chemicals as they may harm the metal surfaces.
    1. Not Just Inside: be sure to clean evaporator coil and blades using a brush and pressurized water.
  3. Inspect Door seals and hinges quarterly
    1. Ensure that the door is getting a good seal and is not damaged. Make sure the hinges are properly lubricated and not sticking.
  4. Check condensing units to ensure there is proper airflow and nothing is obstructing the evaporators and condensing units.
  5. Monitor temperatures Daily
    1. If you are not currently documenting and monitoring temperatures there is no way to ensure your freezer or cooler is meeting it’s setpoint temperature. a unit that is unable to meet its setpoint could have something fundamentally wrong and may be in serious need of maintenance or repair . 
  6. Talk with your refrigeration tech to ensure you have a scheduled maintenance program set up.

Small Box Energy’s Director of Deployment Jim Parker installs the chameleon™ platform in the field and has seen a little bit of everything. Jim talked with me about common problems he sees in the field, “One thing I always hear is when the unit ices up we just add more defrost…this does not solve the root issue of why the unit is icing up, but making it. This extends the run times as well as the wear and tear on the system, ultimately reducing the efficiency and life of the equipment.” Jim lists common problems with Walk-In units that he comes across:

     1. Dirty Coils

     2. Fans not Functioning

     3. Low Refrigerant

     4. Tune-Ups Not Up To Date

     5. Bad Door Seals

     6. Evaporator Not Sealed Allowing Moisture Intrusion

Most of the above problems can be remedied by using the tips provided above. We hope you found these tips useful and remember to stay COOL!

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Small Box Energy at NFA BKC Summit 6/6-6/9

By | Events, Tradeshows | No Comments

Off to Arlington VA, Small Box Energy will exhibit its energy management system, specifically designed with restaurants in mind. The NFA BKC Summit is an annual event where Burger king franchisees and suppliers come together for networking, educational and social opportunities. This year the NFA BKC summit is at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City  in Arlington, Virginia June 6- June 9th.  

Tracy Markie, Small Box Energy’s CEO, will be there exhibiting the award winning energy management platform, chameleon™ at booth #94. Burger King Franchisees will have the opportunity to learn about the benefits that having an energy management system can have on a restaurant’s bottom line as well as the environment.

With convenience being a key factor in today’s society what an amazing thing it would be to be able to view not just one of your restaurant’s energy consumption and temperatures real time from your phone, but your entire portfolio?! This is what the chameleon app does, it provides real time visibility and remote control that give restaurant owners peace of mind and actionable data.

Gone are the days of showing up to one of your locations during the afternoon lunch rush and the outside lights are still on. Alerts can be sent when connected equipment is not following schedule,and remedying that problem right from the app makes energy management and facility visibility a breeze.

Check out the website to see what the chameleon can do for you! Start saving for summer months now!

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