Mission Pie, already one of the few restaurants to achieve green certification, just ramped up its sustainability with the installation of rooftop solar panels to provide up to a third of its power.
"It keeps getting windier in the Mission. Maybe we should have gone with wind power," joked co-owner Karen Heisler.
Solar power has been on the Mission Pie wishlist since it opened in 2007, but starting a food business is time-consuming and costly; Heisler and co-owner Krystin Rubin had other projects to tackle first. When they finally started talking to Claire Hill of the small SF solar company Luminalt last year, they were ready to take the plunge.
Rubin said the installation price was neither "shockingly high or delightfully low," but will reduce Mission Pie's significant electric bill by one quarter to one third. "It's an act of faith that our business will thrive long enough for the cost to be absorbed," she said.
Of course, this kind of action isn't really about the Benjamins; Rubin and Heisler are just walking the talk of their community-minded, green-friendly ethos. They hope the panels make energy conservation a talking point amongst staff and customers. They even have a computer monitor installed near the water station so patrons can track Mission Pie's energy savings.
Hill said the only food-related solar panels Luminalt has installed in the past were for Project Open Hand, as most restaurants are tenants in someone else's space.
Heisler owns the Mission Pie building, making the bakery a standout in this regard. Still, she and Rubin think other property owners who rent out retail food spaces could be convinced to install panels. "Restaurants use a lot of power," said Rubin. "Just think how much more attractive a property becomes to a future tenant if there are solar panels on the roof."@Jesse Hirsch, too.