Electric and Gas Costs For A Restaurant

Joined Jan 4, 2013
Hello all,
I am exploring the probability of starting/buying an existing restaurant. Nothing big (80-100 seats max) since I don't want to take all the fun out of what I love.
I'm at the point of the process where I'm running numbers trying to figure out my break-even point when I realized I forgot something extremely important.
What have your experiences been in the monthly costs of gas and electric.
I know to answer this question successfully involves a lot of variables, so I'm not looking for an exact answer here just ball parks.

I'm estimating that I would have
3-4 beverage coolers
3-4 sandwich/salad prep tables
1 3 ft grill
1 6 eye burner
3-4 fryers
1 walk in cooler
1 freezer
1-2 steamers
1 Large kettle
1 convection oven
Basically the normal kitchen hardware.
Hours of operation is still up in the air right now but let's assume there is lunch and dinner served 7 days a week.

Like I stated earlier I know there are a lot of variables that I do not have right now but your insights will be helpful.

PS: Since I have this audience, how have you been able to control these costs
Joined Feb 17, 2010
When I had my place, the utilities ran about two grand a month. Don't forget HVAC!

Friend of mine owns a gas station, we were talking about utilities the other day. It's about a 3000sf building, open 18 hrs a day, think 7/11 type place. $12-1500 a month for electric.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
You might try calling similar sized restaurants in your area and asking them to provide info. Did you try calling the electric company? They might be able to help too. 

I know it might be weird calling a potential competitor, but you might try someplace not so close by so that there is no conflict of interest. 
Joined Jan 4, 2013
Thanks chefbuba and Someday,

I have contacted a few chefs I know here in NC and since they work for corporate restaurants they don't know off the top of there heads.I'm still waiting for replies of others. I doubt the electric company here will be any help but I will try. 

I've been estimating at around $3000/mth.
Joined Apr 17, 2006
There's not a lot you can do to control costs, but there are a few things. One place I worked had the habit of starting their fryers about two hours before they were needed, They only take about 15-20 min. to heat up. I pointed out to the owner that if they waited and turned the fryers on just before lunch, the savings were equivalent to running the fryers for free the whole month of Feb. That got his attention! Keep you coolers and freezers as full as possible while allowing for air circulation. Goods retain their temperature better than air. (Think about how in the days when they delivered ice, the ice was cut during the winter but stayed frozen through the summer with no refrigeration just by being packed in saw dust. The sheer volume of the ice kept itself cold.) Heat and air can be turned down 3-4 deg. but HVAC companies recommend to not go more drastic as the equipment just works harder to bring the building to temp. when you open, so you don't save anything and the building is uncomfortable for a couple of hours when opening. It's hard to give you an idea of the cost because utilities vary a lot in price from location to location in the US. The last place I ran had about a 10X4 ft. walk-in freezer and the same size walk-in cooler, one double door reach-in cooler and double door freezer. One large gas fryer, an full size salamander with oven underneath, a four burner stove with 2 1/2 ft. flat top and oven under, 24" char broiler, 4 well steam table, single tray dishwasher, 2 chest freezers, 4 door beer cooler, under counter wine cooler, well pump, 2 air units, two furnaces and an ice machine. The utility bill was around $50 per day. All gas equipment ran on propane. Keeping your kitchen cool is important though. Not just more comfortable for you, but your refrigeration equipment will run better and with fewer break downs. That place seated about 80. I'm curious about the amount of equipment you are going to have. I don't know what type of menu you intend to have, but it seems to me 3-4 fryers is excessive for 80 seats. I've worked at quite a few places where we did a large volume of batter fried food, and usually had only two fryers. Good luck with your new business, I hope you will be very successful.
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Good fridge maintenance is key. Clean your compressor, clean the condenser in the walk in (you should do this anyways to keep it free from mold/etc) so it runs more efficient. Check your seals and gaskets regularly...they are relatively inexpensive and leaky seals can cost a lot in the long run. Walk in curtains might help too

Like greyeagle said, try not to turn stuff on too early or until you need it. Keep lights off as much as possible. Don't let people stand at the walk in with the door open. Should you get strip curtains? I dunno...maybe look into it. 

But yeah, electric is just something you are going to have to pay. 
Joined Jun 23, 2015
If you buy existing require the utility records. For new equipment you can get power usage off the manufactures website.  Have a sales person help that is what they are for.  Don't forget the dish station and washer.  What about the cost of water?  Hoods and fans?
Joined Oct 12, 2011
I'm being questioned by one of our sustainability folks about what is needed to remain plugged in over a holiday break. obviously walk-ins are a big no no, but what about deli reach ins and standing one/two door reach ins? we're talking about roughly 3 weeks.

any advise?
Joined Jan 25, 2013
i would check to see if natural gas is even available where you are. there are large sections of north carolina that do not have natural gas available for residential or commercial buildings. makes the whole gas pipeline and frack for gas a joke
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I'm being questioned by one of our sustainability folks about what is needed to remain plugged in over a holiday break. obviously walk-ins are a big no no, but what about deli reach ins and standing one/two door reach ins? we're talking about roughly 3 weeks.

any advise?

What are you asking? If it is OK to unplug/power down the walk in and reach in for 3 weeks? Obviously if they don't have food in them...what would be the issue with unplugging them? Did I miss something?
Joined Sep 26, 2017
just if it's hard on the equipment to go from off to on multiple times a year.

Not hard at all I suppose. We have a lot of electrical problems at our place and the power goes out at least once every couple of weeks.

As for leaving the equipment off for a long time, leave the doors slightly ajar to prevent staleness.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
just if it's hard on the equipment to go from off to on multiple times a year.

No, you should be fine, I wouldn't anticipate any issues. Just remember that your walk in will take a few hours to come back down to temp (the reach ins less so).

It's also a good opportunity to clean the condensers, compressors, etc. Get behind your units and clean the equipment out. Check and change gaskets if necessary, etc.

And like Pat Pat said, prop the doors open slightly to keep fresh air inside.
Joined Dec 2, 2017
I would recommend you involve your local utility company. They can do an assessment in the design process and offer ways to save money. My own business got a free makeover to energy efficient lighting. Good Luck in your endeavor. It's not easy, but it was worth it for me.
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