Case Study: Shari’s Restaurant

Consuming Less & Saving More with a New Recipe for Strategic Energy Management

When new CEO, Bruce MacDiarmid, joined Shari’s Restaurants in 2008, he challenged the Shari’s team to evaluate any operational costs that didn’t directly enhance their guest’s restaurant dining experience. A financial evaluation identified utility charges as the third largest controllable expense making them one of the primary targets for this efficiency initiative. There are two ways to achieve utility savings, lower rates and reduce consumption. Most of Shari’s restaurants are in regulated energy markets, where rates are controlled by the state and not open to competition between private companies. This meant the company had little control over the prices of their utility rates, making efforts to reduce consumption a top priority. To achieve the savings goals, Shari’s first needed to know where to focus their efforts. Through a combination of data management, audits, and energy performance initiatives, the company was able to gain visibility across their chain, identify outliers and implement a corporate wide energy management program to improve efficiencies and cut costs.



Through their work with Ecova, Shari’s knew that they had the data necessary to reduce and control consumption; they just needed additional support to interpret and identify the most effective opportunities. Through the expense management process, Shari’s had visibility into the individual site use and cost information for each of the restaurants in their chain. Ecova’s team of energy experts developed performance reports to accurately assess consumption data using quantifiable portfolio energy metrics at the individual site level. Each of the 104 Shari’s restaurants were grouped by square footage, guest count, and location, and then ranked according to their monthly electric and gas usage. The report revealed the total amount of energy used at each restaurant and drew a comparative analysis. Findings provided evidence that restaurants, while similar in square footage and foot traffic, often had vast discrepancies in energy and water use. Further investigation was needed to understand what was causing such varying consumption levels. Store and equipment audits were conducted at a few of the locations with the highest consumption and evaluated for improvements, while those that were performing well were used to model behavior after. Through further monitoring of the performance reporting statistics,

Shari’s was able to quantify the effectiveness of their efforts in regard to cost and consumption.

These reports continue to guide Shari’s efficiency efforts allowing them to clearly communicate and provide motivation for reduced consumption and improved energy efficiencies.

To maximize these efforts, this information was shared across the restaurant group. Ecova, with the help of the Shari’s team, developed an energy newsletter to highlight the three most energy-efficient restaurants over the previous period, highlighting what they did to reduce consumption, educating the entire Shari’s chain on efficiency strategies. Additionally the newsletter provides Shari’s restaurants with season-specific check lists of simple actions that can be taken to increase energy efficiency, such as changing temperature set points and harvesting natural heat and light.


Ecova’s equipment audits, monthly usage reports, and additional recommendations have helped Shari’s make educated decisions about upgrading their equipment and facilities, improving their corporate citizenship and…

Enabling Shari’s to reduce energy consumption by 16% year over year.

These savings comprised:

  • Nearly $1 million by temporarily shutting down gas broilers. Firing up gas broilers to cook just a few items wasted energy and money. Temporarily adjusting the menu offerings eliminated the need for these broilers reducing energy use by 25% percent annually. These menu items will be reintroduced once the broilers have been adjusted for improved efficiencies.
  • $597,480 projected savings through dipper well redesign. During Ecova’sequipment audit, dipper wells, used for ice cream scoops, and other kitchen tools were running heated water 24 hours a day, seven days a week and found to waste 8 million gallons of water a year. Shari’s is now redesigning this system, which they aim to install by 2011.
  • $300,000 by installing aerators on faucets. Most of the 520 sinks installed in Shari’s were lacking aerators, which increases water pressure while reducing volume when the water is running. The company invested $8.00 per faucet to install aerators on all sinks and cut water consumption by approximately 5 million gallons a year.
  • $57,720 from internal motion sensors. Rooms used for storage, chemicals, and hot water heaters are rarely used. If a light is left on, it could be on for weeks. Motion sensors were installed to detect when the room is in use, and turn the lights on and off accordingly.
  • $31,000 through digital thermostats. Upgrading thermostats allowed Shari’s toset a wide range for indoor temperature that varies between a low and high point that will always be comfortable for customers. This range means that HV AC systems no longer have to work constantly to maintain an exact temperature, so they turn on less often, reducing annual energy consumption by 5 percent.


Challenged by goals to reduce energy costs as much as 10% Shari’s adopted a strategic approach to maximize efficiencies and create awareness at all levels of their company. Mindful not to detract from the customer experience, Shari’s has gone beyond the financial savings, and gained a deep understanding of how everyday decisions can conserve energy and improve operating efficiencies. This comprehensive energy management program has enabled Shari’s to foster a culture of operating smarter, through awareness of the financial and environmental impact of efficient business practices.

Download Case Study