Tips from Santa Cruz County’s First Green Business

11 Feb

The Shadowbrook has been a favorite and world-famous restaurant destination since 1947. And though its roots are a log cabin built some time during the early 1920’s and though much of the facility today is ‘vintage’ post-war construction the restaurant has been most progressive and modern when it comes to green business practices. In fact, Shadowbrook was the very first business in Santa Cruz County to earn the Green Business designation. And among the many awards and recognitions the restaurant has received over nearly 70-years of operation this is one that brings them immense pride and satisfaction.

Owner Ted Burke (left) General Manager John Skinner (right)

The restaurant has enjoyed a reputation and long history of unique and innovative practices when dealing with its foodservice challenges so it was not unusual to see the restaurant commit itself in the same way when dealing with its environmental practices and opportunities. As is true for most of progress made in business, it is best achieved when there is a partnership with the community and a win-win solution can be forged. And, thus, the restaurant has been aggressive to identify and implement green practices whenever it can.

One of the more unique practices that Shadowbrook has implemented includes a series of water tanks wrapped in hollow coils that captured the hot gas exhausts of the restaurant’s many refrigeration compressors. This resulted in cooler running compressors that extended their operating life as well as providing “free” pre-heated water for domestic and dishwashing use that took water temperatures from 55 degrees in-ground to about 110 degrees in the holding tanks before then being boosted by a boiler to a sanitary 180 degrees. This saved both the cost and use of natural gas for the restaurant’s hot water needs. Some of this preheated hot water is even used to heat certain areas of the restaurant with warm, ambient heat.

Since the present ownership took over the business in 1978 the Shadowbrook has carried out a number of noteworthy environmental achievements, including many firsts. In the early 70’s and long before it became fashionable Shadowbrook constructed a turf roof over its kitchen which still is today a source of home-grown vegetables and herbs for the Chef. And at a time well before the drought began, the Shadowbrook worked with a neighbor to transform their most outlying parking lot from the typical wood chip covered lot to a formal landscaping area utilizing drought-tolerant plants. The restaurant was the first restaurant in Capitola to recycle its glassware and to initiate a compost program for its food wastes. And lastly, another first for Capitola was the installation of waterless urinals in the men’s room. Today, motion-activated faucets are used in all restrooms.

There are many more projects to list and many more that we hope to achieve in the years ahead. However, one thing remains constant:  That is, our commitment by action rather than words to respect the environment wherever possible and demonstrate that such commitment can also enhance both beauty and function of this wonderful property and business.

Written by: Shadowbrook Owner Ted Burke and General Manager John Skinner